Perseverance: Japanese Tattoo Tradition in a Modern World

ON THE ROAD at The Japan Foundation, Sydney

Exhibition Website

Sep 28 2016 - Nov 12 2016

Perseverance: Japanese Tattoo Tradition in a Modern World is a groundbreaking photographic exhibition that explores the master craftsmanship of traditional Japanese tattoos and their enduring influence on modern tattoo practices.

Even as Japanese-style tattooing has moved into the mainstream, it remains an enigmatic and misunderstood art form. Mainstream Japanese society denounces it as a criminal practice, associating it more with some of its yakuza clientele than with its respected artists. Western practitioners and aficionados, on the other hand, often lack knowledge of the practice’s long history, reducing it to an exotic form of decoration.

Perseverance aims to shift the conversation around Japanese tattoo practice by examining it as a serious art form, placing it in a rich artistic lineage that includes ukiyo-e and other traditional Japanese printing techniques. The exhibition also looks at the vibrancy of current Japanese-style tattoo practices, which include hybrid styles developed by practitioners in Japan, Europe, and the United States.

Designed by artist Kip Fulbeck and curated by master tattoo artist and author Takahiro Kitamura, Perseverance features stunning color photographs by Fulbeck of the work of seven internationally acclaimed tattoo artists: Horishiki (Chris Brand), Ryudaibori (formerly Horitaka), Horitomo, Junii, Miyazo, Shige, and Yokohama Horiken, along with additional images of works by other artists. The accompanying catalogue includes full-color reproductions along with informative essays by the curators and several contributing artists.

Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.

Whether you go or not, the exhibitio catalog, Perseverance Japanese Tattoo Tradition in a Modern World, explores the artistry of traditional Japanese tattoos along with its rich history and influence on modern tattoo practices in this groundbreaking photographic exhibition. Filled with brilliant color photographs, the catalogue contains a history by Kenji Hori, essays by Junko Junii Shimada, Chris Horishiki Brand, Jill Horiyuki Halpin, Takahiro Kitamura and Chaz Bojorquez. As Japanese tattoos have moved into the mainstream, the artistry and legacy of Japanese tattooing remain both enigmatic and misunderstood. Often copied by practitioners and aficionados in the West without regard to its rich history, symbolism, or tradition, the art form is commonly reduced to a visual or exotic caricature. Conversely, mainstream Japanese culture still dismisses the subject itself as underground, associating it more with some of its clientele than with the artists practicing it. Both of these mindsets ignore the vast artistry and rich history of the practice. Perseverance explores Japanese tattooing as an art form by acknowledging its roots in ukiyo-e prints and examines current practices and offshoots of Japanese tattooing in the U.S. and Japan.

  • Photography
  • International
  • Contemporary
  • Culture / Lifestyle
  • Kip Fulbeck

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