utagawa hiroshige: the moon reflected Ikon Gallery birmingham
In 19th-century Japan, a print by the artist Utagawa Hiroshige cost roughly the same price as a bowl of noodles. They were mass- produced, printed in batches, for the emerging urban class who couldn't afford an original. To the modern eye, these images have a certain familiarity. You will have seen something like them somewhere before - on the wall of an Asian restaurant, maybe, or on the side of an oriental teapot.
Their ubiquity does not, however, diminish their artistry. A drawing from Hiroshige's series Sixty Odd Provinces is so clear and beautiful, like an early morning in spring, that you can feel yourself there, walking along the cliff looking out to sea. A view of Mount Fuji is a view of nothing - of space, mist and sky; its snowy peak is all that is tangible.
Hiroshige's work has influenced many artists, from Monet to Van Gogh to the British artist Julian Opie, who curated this …