daLL'8 MARZO AL 30 GIUGNO 2024



- curaTED BY paola scrolavezza -

For the first time in Italy, an exhibition on the art of the shinhanga, an extraordinary opportunity to immerse oneself in the beauty and melancholy of an artistic movement that revolutionized traditional Japanese ukiyoe printing in the early 20th century by fusing classical elements with modernist sensibilities.

The exhibition boasts more than 80 original works by some of the most celebrated shinhanga masters, including Itō Shinsui, Kawase Hasui, and Hashiguchi Goyō, who, by portraying vibrantly colored landscapes and beautiful female figures, were able to capture the essence of the landscape and the ferments of Japan in those years with a renewed style and a focus on light, seasons, and details, with that touch of nostalgia that accompanies the disappearance of a world threatened by progress.

Vertigo Syndrome, under the patronage of the Consulate of Japan and the City of Turin, is proud to present “Shinhanga. The New Wave of Japanese Prints,” the first exhibition ever held in Italy on the art of theShinhanga, to be held in Turin at Palazzo Barolo from March 8 to June 30, 2024.

“Shinhanga. The New Wave of Japanese Prints,” through the exhibition of masterful works never seen in Italy, from private collections and from the Japanese Gallery Kensington in London, as well as precious kimonos, historical photographs and decorative objects, celebrates the continuity and evolution of the Japanese artistic tradition, showing how theShinhanga movement was able to preserve centuries-old techniques of wood engraving while introducing innovative perspectives and overseas influences.


From the great subjects ofukiyoe to suburban landscapes and new female models

Brilliant pigments, melancholy and silent atmospheres, suspended between a deep connection to tradition and the inexorable advance of progress. This is the Shinhanga, literally “the new woodcut,” officially born in 1916 through the work of artists such as Itō Shinsui and Kawase Hasui, who moved away from the subjects of theukiyoe current-iconic landscapes depicting famous locations, famous geisha or characters associated with the world of the most fashionable theaters – favored instead characteristic views of the rural province or city suburbs, not yet reached by modernization, such as ruins, ancient temples, rural images, and night scenes illuminated by the full moon and streetlights. These impressionistic views were soon joined by new types of bijinga, the portraits of women, now no longer dedicated to famous and unattainable models, but to the women of modern times, portrayed in their everyday lives, as they style their hair or apply makeup, young people from whose eyes emotions, dreams and regrets seep out.


The prints before and after the great earthquake of 1923: a new Japan, a newShinhanga

The exhibition itinerary, designed to enthrall and intrigue the broader public, proceeds precisely through the pairing of landscapes and bijinga, and finds its central focus and pivot point in the great Kantō earthquake of September 1, 1923, the worst in Japan’s history. Followed by violent fires that burned for a full two days, fueled by typhoon winds, it claimed more than 100,000 lives and completely razed a vast area around the capital: from the ashes a new Tokyo was born, ever more forward-looking, and with it a society that was avant-garde and open to the Western way of life.

After the earthquake, the production of engravings intensifies at the frantic pace of urban reconstruction, absorbs the new atmosphere and narrates it in an increasingly diverse production. To the characteristic views are added metropolitan corners with deserted streets, houses from the windows of which dense, artificial lighting filters through; in the works we now notice the absence of human figures, rain and snow prevail, symbolizing humanity’s struggle with the natural elements. Everything in the woodcuts produced after the disaster tells of the individual’s sense of bewilderment and loneliness in the face of the fragility of existence. Similarly, in the bijinga the connection with the world of nighttime entertainment typical ofukiyoe fades further, until it disappears altogether. The girls immortalized in the illustrations are not only ordinary women, but they also begin to move outside the home, in the streets or clubs of fashionable neighborhoods: they are maids, teachers, nurses and typists, independent and educated, emancipated young people ready to seize the many opportunities that the new Japan offers them.


Between urbanization and cultural ferment

Established at the beginning of the Taishō democracy (1912-1926) and continuing until the 1940s, shinhanga is an artistic reflection of an extraordinary period in contemporary Japan, which, in the wake of the renewal already initiated in the Meiji era, is characterized by an atmosphere of extreme freedom and cultural ferment. Against the backdrop of urbanization, major cities became the centers of an increasingly affordable art and culture, open to the new bourgeoisie and the new public flowing into the metropolises from the provinces, attracted by the prospect of economic and social ascendancy and the nonconformist, modern lifestyle. It was in this context that a number of enlightened publishers and printers, among whom the emblematic figure of Watanabe Shōzaburō stands out, gave impetus to the development of the movement, intent on producing an indigenous and innovative art while making use of the traditional process of hanmoto, or “atelier”-the same one used by the masters ofukiyoe-which sees the artist in charge of the conception and drawing, entrusting the engraver, printer and publisher with the subsequent stages of print production and dissemination.


The seduction of the allure of the far, exotic East.

With the help of vintage shots, videos and magazines, women’s dresses reminiscent of Japanese tradition but in which the modernizing influence from overseas can already be glimpsed, “Shinhanga. The New Wave of Japanese Prints” recreates the atmosphere dense with expectation and nostalgia of the turn of the century and presents the public with an incredible artistic current still unknown in Italy, recounting it in a fascinating and engaging way and painting, through it, a vivid and intense cross-section of Japan between the two wars.

From prints dominated by the darkest tones of blue where the only note of light is the moon, to marinas bathed by the setting sun or the light of boat lanterns, to pagodas towering over cherry trees in full bloom what comes to light is an ideal, emotional and symbolic landscape, a backdrop against which female silhouettes, melancholy and restless icons of the conquest of modernity, stand out.

The exhibition “Shinhanga. The New Wave of Japanese Prints” is curated by Paola Scrolavezza, expert in Japanese Culture and Literature and professor at the Department of Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures of the University of Bologna, with the artistic consultancy of Marco Fagioli, collector, historical authority of Japanese art and author of numerous publications, who supported her in the selection of each work exhibited to guide visitors on a journey through the beauty and transformation of the Japanese landscape and culture in the first decades of the twentieth century.





NOTE: Last admission 1 hour before closing

To view all the dates we suggest you consult the online ticket office.

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