Category Archives: Figure and Ground

Figures and Backgrounds in Ukiyo-e

Japanese woodblock prints liberate the figure from the ground by either dipensing with it altogether, or by embedding it like in marquetry, or by creating a series of flat cut outs arranged in shallow space – like the flats in a theatre. The figure can be turned into the complex system of signs and symbols that create narrative or else be involved in the complex visual game of ‘mitate’ where people and things stand for or make equivalence with other things… naturalism as known in the west is not part of the repetoire of ukiyo-e artists, their game was more complicated Continue reading

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