Oliver is joined by Dr Koto Sadamura, Robert & Lisa Sainsbury Research Fellow at the Sainsbury Institute, to discuss the place of humour in art through the works of the eccentric 19th century painter Kawanabe Kyōsai. Kyōsai’s specialty of kyōga, or “comic pictures”, have historically been overlooked when compared with his more traditional works, despite being of equal skill and cultural significance. Koto also unpicks how comic devices such as inversion of legendary figures were used to depict humorous situations which people of all classes could relate to, much like the memes of today.
Koto’s exhibition, Kyōsai: The Israel Goldman Collection, will be held at the Royal Academy of Arts from 19 March — 19 June 2022.
Mentioned Kyōsai works:
Image and audio credits
[L] Kawanabe Kyōsai, Night Procession of One Hundred Demons (detail), 1871–89. A pair of six-fold screens; ink and colour on paper, 146.8 x 310 cm each. Israel Goldman Collection, London. Photo: Art Research Center, Ritsumeikan University.
[C] Kawanabe Kyōsai, Cats Carrying Giant Tweezers to Torment a Catfish, 1871–89. Hanging scroll; ink and light colour on silk, 97.8 x 36.1 cm. Koto Sadamura.
[R] Kawanabe Kyōsai, Hell Courtesan (Jigoku-dayū), Dancing Ikkyū and Skeletons (detail), 1871–89. Hanging scroll; ink, colour and gold on silk, 137.1 x 69.3 cm. Israel Goldman Collection, London. Photo: Art Research Center, Ritsumeikan University.
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