Hazan editions reward us with two new boxes from their collection about the great masters of Japanese print. While Anne Sefrioui bows Cherry blossomsJocelyn Bouquillard analyzes the place of cats in these drawings of Japanese culture.
After boxes dedicated to water, the moon, women, birds and Mount Fuji, Hazan editions this time enrich their collection of Japanese prints with two new titles, related to cherries and cats. The principle is now known: an accordion book highlights the drawings of the masters of the genrewhilea small explanatory booklet provides elements for reflection and contextualization to the reader who wants to delve deeper into the polysemy with which the prominent motifs are adorned.
This is explained by Anne Sefrioui, a Cherry blossomsthe concept ofhanamian ancestral ritual of contemplation of cherry blossoms. In the spring, from the beginning of March to the end of April, from the hills to the valleys, from one end of the country to the other, the flowering of these trees gradually spreads, offering a magnificent spectacle for the Japanese. Toyohara Chikanobu, for example, features a softly colored triptych, in which women admire the cherry trees from their boat floating in the waters of the Sumida River. The famous engraving movement ukiyo e welcomes the specific genres of the kacho ga – which literally means “flowers and birds” – i meisho-ecelebrating the views of popular places, two artistic currents that give a privileged place to these cherry blossoms that invite meditation, hedonism and leisure time in which you enjoy nature, alone, in a group or in family. Yukawa Shodo shows us a woman admiring the cherry trees, Utagawa Hiroshige gladly mixes spectators and birds, while Katsushika Hokusai offers us general plans: mountains, sea, vegetation, village, etc. – faded blue tones (Goten Hill and Shinagawa…).
As Anne Sefrioui explains very well, the Japanese public gardens (Asakusa, Fukagawa, Ueno …) are all abundantly planted with cherry trees. No wonder, given the beauty of its contemplation, that artists like Kawase Hasui or Utagawa Yoshitaki paid such a poetic tribute to these trees. Tributes that we also find in the place of the cats, which exert a fascination on the Japanese in the image of what we were able to observe in ancient Egypt. Often associated with geisha (Kunisada, Kuniyoshi, Sencho, etc.), sometimes anthropomorphic to critically criticize human behavior (especially in Kuniyoshi), protective or evil (or maneki-neko On peace), these pets have appeared in folklore and plays kabuki before investing in Japanese engravings ukiyo e in the 18th and 19th centuries. They are also found in erotic cartoons, such as Suzuki Harunobu or Katsukawa Shunsho.
In 1602, a government decree decreed that the confinement of cats was now illegal. Their public utility is recognized as rodent predators. Thus, cats protect both rice crops and silkworms from cotton. They also preserve manuscripts. Some of the prints on the box testify to this utilitarian role. Let’s mention it Cat catching a rat in a paper lantern by Kobayashi Kiyochika o Cat pushing mice away by Utagawa Kuniyoshi. It is no coincidence that this surname appears regularly: Jocelyn Bouquillard explains that she has made the cat a favorite subject. In particular, he evaded sumptuous laws and their edicts of censorship (early 1840s) through this intermediary. Cats also appear more symbolically, in Utagawa Yoshifuji or, once again, in Utagawa Kuniyoshi.
He continues to present the collection that Hazan editions dedicate to the great masters of Japanese printing a double interest: artistic of course, as it allows to bring to the reader’s attention, initiated or not, the Japanese masterpieces, but also cultural, by shedding light on the different facts and meanings surrounding the different motives studied. Exciting.
Cherry blossoms by the great masters of Japanese printingAnne Sefrioui
Hazan, April 2022, 226 pages
Cats of the great masters of the Japanese printJocelyn Bouquillard
Hazan, April 2022, 226 pages