Dark & Stormy Woodblock Prints at Scholten Japanese Art

Dark & Stormy Woodblock Prints at Scholten Japanese Art

“One Hundred Famous Views of Edo: Sudden Shower at Atake (Ohashi Bridge)” by Utagawa Hiroshige (Courtesy Scholten Japanese Art)


Last week, I visited Scholten Japanese Art, a private gallery near Central Park South currently featuring an exhibition of woodblock prints. The exhibition, Dark & Stormy: Evocative Images for Uncertain Times, runs through October 31st by appointment. In November, whichever pieces remain will travel uptown to the Park Avenue Armory’s IFPDA Print Fair.

Dark & Stormy includes a variety of landscape prints depicting stormy scenes, like rain, wind and snow. Gallery director Katherine Martin says she came up with the idea in the spring, sparked by news from the Ukraine. Over the summer as she continued to hear “so much bad news everyday,” the concept stuck. She also mentioned wanting to feature landscapes as a “peaceful break for the eye” after Scholten’s figure-heavy prior exhibition, Erotic Art of Japan: Everybody’s Doing It.

“Collection of scenic views of Japan, eastern Japan edition: The Yama Temple, Sendai” by Kawase Hasui (Courtesy Scholten Japanese Art)


Looking at the prints in the show, I found it interesting to note the varied ways different artists illustrated rain. One of the most famous prints included in the show, Utagawa Hiroshige’s “One Hundred Famous Views of Edo: Sudden Shower at Atake (Ohashi Bridge),” features what looks like a lightly sketched downpour. Another piece, Kawase Hasui’s “Collection of scenic views of Japan, eastern Japan edition: The Yama Temple, Sendai,” was one of my favorites for its almost-cheerful droplets of rain and pops of orange and green in the background. Based on the concept, my take on this piece was that looks are deceiving: though rain can be aesthetically pleasing, it can also cause damage.

Martin calls Utagawa Toyokuni II’s “Eight Celebrated Views: Night Rain at Oyama” an “unsung hero” for its bold diagonal lines of rain. She pointed out that a stairway runs perpendicular to the rain and a handful of tiny figures ascend Mount Oyama to worship the god of rain at the peak’s shrine.

“Eight Celebrated Views: Night Rain at Oyama” by Utagawa Toyokuni II (Courtesy Scholten Japanese Art)


Martin changes exhibitions seasonally, like galleries in Japan. Approximately 35-40 images hang in the gallery, while Scholten’s website features extras that she doesn’t have room to display—or pieces that have already sold. For the winter, she plans to include some of the snowstorm prints from Dark & Stormy as well as a few non-landscape works that feature snow.

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