The Japanese Art of Shunga. Art review by Maite Rodriguez. A new article in the weekly section of the artist Maite Rodriguez on Yareah.
From Thursday, the British Museum will host a special exhibition celebrating the enjoyment of sex. It shows a unique art form from Japan, which was cultivated over three centuries dating back to 1600 until the 1900s. The innovation of printing during the seventeenth century help Shunga secure its place in Japanese history besides enhancing its female and middle class popularity. However the nineteenth century experienced a change of formal attitudes and the introduction of a criminal code that prohibited the dissemination of “obscene” material, which has contributed to its obscurity.
Although it maybe a taboo subject in today´s society the exhibition is not shy as it proudly presents more than a hundred and fifty engravings, paintings and book illustrations otherwise referred to as ¨spring pictures¨ along with other refined erotic pieces collected in Europe by such famous artistic figures as Toulouse- Lautrec , Rodin and Picasso.
The exhibition really holds its own as it brings together in one unique collection a large number of quality artwork exposing the existing culture and history of sex and pleasure in Japan. Most of the works were created by artists from the school ukiyo -e (“floating world”) to display sexual pleasure in all its forms, and often mixed with humour, as did medieval Japanese narrative. The piece drawing the most attention in the room depicts the sight of a woman in imaginative sexual game with tentacles of an octopus, or a couple in the act openly showing his genitals to the artist.