The term ‘mitate’ refers to a process of thought that has a long history in Japanese culture; it is a form of analogy, comparing one thing to another. Nana Shiomi’s 100 Views of Mitate (a series of colour wood block prints made between 1996 and 2016) encapsulates her unique amalgamation of artistic ideas from east and west. Each presents a motif – or she calls it, an ‘icon’ – on a stage. The stage – ochre boards receding to a vanishing point, creating an illusion of three dimensions by using the Western technique of perspective – is set against an earth-red background. Shiomi has described her method as reflecting the fact that ‘we live in the Western-rationalised world…We Japanese are living in the Western-dominated world with a Japanese mindset’. Also derived from Japanese thinking is the idea that everything is equal – humans, animals, insects, plants, minerals, the elements, the moon and planets, and these are the things which are set centre stage in each of the 100 prints. The viewer is invited to bring their own associations to these motifs, giving new life and meanings to these over-familiar and antiquated symbols of Japanese culture.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Nana Shiomi makes contemporary woodcut prints. After a period of examining Western art, Shiomi moved on to consider her own Japanese culture within her prints. Shiomi makes reference to masterpieces from the Japanese ukiyo-e tradition in her own work. She often employs a stage within the composition of her images to present ideas. Her printing approach can be described technically as a combination of relief/intaglio and water-based woodcut printmaking. It is rooted in the traditional methods of Japanese ukiyo-e woodblock, printmaking by hand with a Baren, to which she has added her own experimental printing techniques.
Shiomi’s work is held in public collections including her epic cycle of 100 Prints ‘One Hundred Views Of Mitate’ at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London; The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. Royal College of Art Collection; Pallant House Gallery. Chichester; Wimbledon School of Art Collection; Brunel University, Middlesex; Oriental Museum, Durham; Aberystwyth University, Wales; The Johnson Museum, Cornell University Collection, USA; Tama Art University, Tokyo.
Born in Osaka, Japan in 1956, Shiomi studied oil painting and printmaking at the Tama Art University (BA, MA), Tokyo, and in 1989 – 1991 MA Printmaking at the Royal College of Art, London. She has been living and working in London since 1989.
Rabley Gallery and Nana Shiomi co-published “This Side and the Other Side, Nana Shiomi Woodcuts 1996 – 2016, a monograph on the artist’s prints is available from the gallery.