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Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, a student of ukiyo-e master Utagawa Kuniyoshi, showed a predilection towards two types of subject in his early work: exceptionally bloody musha-e (“warror prints”), and supernatural images of demons and ghosts. Yoshitoshi maintained an interest in depicting the haunted realm of Japanese myth right up until his last major series, 36 Ghosts, in 1889 (two years before his death). Like all Yoshitoshi’s art, these prints are now considered to be the work of ukiyo-e’s last master practitioner.
DEMONS FROM THE HAUNTED WORLD collects and considers over 150 of Yoshitoshi’s most striking and disturbing images of spectres, monsters and demons – including four series in their entirety – presented in large-format and full-colour throughout. It features both stand-alone works from various stages of Kuniyoshi’s career, and works taken from various series. The three series that are reproduced in full are:
100 Ghost Stories From China And Japan (Wakan hyaku monogatari, 1865); Yoshitoshi only completed 26 of the projected 100 designs, which were published in oban (roughly 23 x 12 inches) format by Daikin. Authors of the accompanying text included Kanagaki Robun, Sumida Ryoko, Kikuyotei Roko, and Sankanjin Korai.
Heroic Beauty From The Suikoden (Biyu suikoden, 1866-7); 50 designs, published in vertical chuban (roughly 10 x 7 inches) format, by Kinkyu.
New Forms Of 36 Ghosts (Shinkei sanjurokkaisen, 1889-1892); 36 designs, published in oban format by Sasaki Toyokichi. Revisiting some of the Japanese myths and legends he had addressed in previous series, Yoshitoshi delivered a far more restrained and atmospheric set of designs, with less emphasis on the aspect of monsters or spectres.
Other sets represented here include A Modern Journey To The West (Tsuzoku saiyuki, 1864-65); Valour In China And Japan (Wakan goki zoroi, 1868); Essays By Yoshitoshi (Ikkai zuihitsu, 1872); Mirror Of Famous Generals Of Great Japan (Dai nippon meisho kagami, 1879); Crazy Pictures Of Tokyo (Tokyo kaika kyoga meisho, 1881); A New Selection Of Strange Events (Shinyo rokkaisen, 1882); and Sketches By Yoshitoshi (Yoshitoshi manga, 1885-86).
Taken together, the 150 images in DEMONS FROM THE HAUNTED WORLD comprise a stunning introduction to the art and imagination of a visionary 19th century master.