Hokusai and the trends of Japanese art

Hokusai and the trends of Japanese art

14th Mar 2024

Japanese art has been a popular category for years, and it's not hard to see why. 

With recent exhibitions like 'Japan: Myths to Manga' at the Young V&A, there's never been a better time to explore this fascinating art form. 

The Timeless Legacy of Hokusai 

One of the most famous artists in Japanese history is Katsushika Hokusai. His iconic woodblock prints, like "The Great Wave off Kanagawa," are celebrated worldwide for their intricate design and timeless beauty. Hokusai's use of the traditional Japanese printing technique 'ukiyo-e' is a testament to his creative genius and continues to inspire artists today.

The Great Wave off Kanagawa

There is a lot of speculation around what 'The Great Wave' represents with a lot of people being drawn to the symbolism around water, waves and Mount Fuji. The eternal symbolism of Mount Fuji has been linked to the transformative element of the water and waves highlighting Hokusai's potential commentary on changing perspectives through the spiritual journey. There are other more literal interpretations of what Hokusai was trying to represent which comment more on the harsh seas around Mount Fuji and his observation of them. This iconic woodblock print made in 1831 transcends time and has artists of today still talking and inspired. 

Hokusai and Manga 

Hokusai's influence doesn't stop there. Many believe he played a significant role in the creation of manga, the popular Japanese comic book style. His whimsical paintings and character designs were ahead of their time and still influence manga artists today. 

Our retro illustration artist Vincent Trinidad is heavily inspired by Japanese woodblock prints - the same method used by Hokusai. Vincent illustrates perfectly the beautiful combination of traditional Japanese art styles with modern manga. 

The Great Sushi Wave by Vincent Trinidad    Cat Ramen by Vincent Trinidad

Japanese Art Themes

Japanese art is known for its rich mythologies and folklore, featuring themes like dragons, spirits, and nature. The elegant and soft styles of Japanese art balance the powerful elements of these myths, creating stunning pieces that capture the imagination. 

Japan's beautiful scenery, from breathtaking landscapes to stunning wildlife, is also a common theme in Japanese art. 

Hokusai and manga demonstrate Japan's artistic innovation and cultural heritage, inspiring artists for generations. Explore the rich history of Japanese art and discover the enduring power of creativity.