Ukiyo-e: Pictures of the floating world

Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil

January 22, 2013

Ukiyo-e: Pictures of the floating world

January 25–June 2, 2013
Opening: Friday 25 January 8–10pm

Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil
Avenida Revolución 1608
Col. San Ángel, Del. Álvaro Obregón
C.P. 01000  Mexico City
Hours: Tuesday–Sunday 10–6pm

Based on the review of the collection of Japanese pictures of the MACG, acquired by Doctor Alvar Carrillo Gil since his first trip to Japan in 1955, this exhibition presents a brief introduction to ukiyo-e—literally “pictures of the floating world”—setting a visual and conceptual dialogue between these and the contemporary art related to this topic produced in Mexico and Japan. These pictures were created massively as merchandise in the popular urban setting in Edo, Tokyo, today, during the Tokugawa (1603–1868) and Meiji (1868–1912) periods.

Nowadays, contemporary visual experience, imbued by flow, seduction and global commerce of the image in our industrialized societies, allows us to identify continuities and parallelisms between ukiyo-e‘s aesthetic conception of culture and contemporary global visual culture. From the analysis of the strategies used by creators of ukiyo-e—like mitate (parody), used to evoke topics and elements from the past under covered by contemporary signs and benchmarks, along with resources and representation techniques of contemporary art, such as appropriation, intervention, quote and homage—one can discern similarities that vanish the frontiers between familiar and foreign, between high culture and that which is popular, between past and present.

Ukiyo-e: Pictures of the floating world invites us to reflect on the differences and similarities, as well as visual and conceptual continuities, between ukiyo-e‘s universe and contemporary artistic practices. In both settings, intertextuality works as a recurrent element. The proposals of Japanese and Mexican artists included in this exhibition show how their views and identities intertwine in the encounter with Japanese pictures in the Collection of Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil. The different media in which contemporary artworks are created—electronic, applied arts, installation, painting and photography—introduce us to multiple narratives and discourses.

Repetition unfolds in all the selected works, operating as a creative device by means of the appropriation of the foreign; it is produced in what is being actualized as well as in its actualization. It sets off in the idea but continues in the diversity of relationships between the first and the second object, through the performance and the revising of the work as a text. Repetition also establishes the reproductions of time and space in the “pictures of the floating world,” reinterpreted from the present.  In every case, repetition is the power of the difference and differentiation, because it abridges the singularities of the same, because it accelerates or slows down time; or because it alters the spaces of representation.

This exhibition is curated by Ibarí Ortega Domínguez (associate curator at the Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil), Amaury Garcia Rodriguez (invited researcher) and was achieved thanks to the support of the National Institute of Fine Arts of Mexico, the Multimedia Center of the National Arts Centre and the Japan Foundation.

All our cultural programs are open to the public in general and take place in Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil (unless otherwise noted). We are located in 1608 Revolución Avenue in the San Ángel neighbourhood in Mexico City. To arrive by public transportation, take line 9 of the subway to Barranca del Muerto Station and then a bus to San Ángel. We are located in the corner of Altavista Avenue and Revolucion Avenue.

Ticket prices: Sundays free admission

For more information:

*Images above:
Clockwise from top left
1. The warrior Mase Hisadagu Masaaki, from the series Biographies of loyal and Righteous Samurai (late copy of the original). Based on the original by Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797–1862). Polychrome woodblock print, 360 x 250 mm. Copy of the Meiji period (1868–1912).
2. Ken Kitano, Metaportrait of 30 Geikos and Maikos Dancing the Special Kyo Dance in the Spring at the theater in Miyagawa Town, Kyoto, 4 and 5 April, 2003. From the series “Our Face.” Gelatin silver print.
3. Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797–1862), Chōdayū from the Okamoto house, from the series Group of beautiful women from the brothels. Polychrome woodblock print, ōban size (380 x 260 mm), Tenpō era (1830–1844).
4. Floria González, Yumiko (diptych), 2012. Digital print from scanned negative.