Amid a bed of green leaves, two red peonies rest at the opposite corners of a vertical sign with Japanese characters.
Peony Print (2023)

What Meaning can be Found Within the Peony Print

The Peony Print acknowledges the ongoing global influence of traditional and contemporary Japanese artwork. Known as 花言葉 (Hanakotoba), meanings are assigned to different flowers. In this language, peonies denote prosperity, bravery, and prestige. The decorative print also features the Kanji of a commonly recognised idiom, 見ぬが花 (Minu Ga Hana). Translated as ‘not seeing is a flower’, the underlying meaning is that reality is dwarfed by imagination, and it is best when the two are reconciled.

The Historical and Cultural Context of Japanese Artwork

When trade routes were reopened in the mid 19c., Japan’s visual culture began to resonate with European sensibilities. While Western painters had been preoccupied with realism, the Eastern tradition sought to depict the essence of pictorial subjects. Flora and landscapes were particularly common subjects in the Japanese art tradition, with overarching harmony expressed through the painter. The woodblock printed ukiyo-e, made in collaboration with a carver and publisher, were of particular interest to European painters and collectors of objets d’art.

Japanese painters, rather than pursue volumatic perspective, arranged compositions with flattened shapes counterposed by negative space. The calligraphic line-work emerged from writing character scripts, in which black ink is brushed from above onto thin absorbent paper, affording little way to overwork the surface.

Throughout contemporary history, Japanese popular culture has evolved to become one of the eminent global forms of media entertainment. Since the late 2010s Manga has been greatly outselling American comics, with record sales in 2022. There are over 400 Anime production companies throughout Japan, with 60% of revenue expected to come from overseas in 2025. Japanese media franchises are among the world’s highest grossing, Pokémon being the global-leader since 2016. Like 19c. Japonism, global interest is being driven through cultural products. However much influence later came from America’s post-war occupation, it is ultimately Japanese tradition which has emerged through its cultural exports, and remain a hallmark of its culture industry.

Giclée printed onto archival quality 308gsm Hahnemule paper, this unique art-print comes framed and is available to buy from the online shop.

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