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Paul Binnie, Scottish, b. 1967

In this series of woodblock prints, published between 2004 and 2015 and inspired by classic ukiyo-e of the 18th and 19th century, Binnie incorporates compositions by major artists in the form of tattoo designs on nude figures. Each of the prints explores various ukiyo-e themes, subjects, and genres. Often playful, Binnie does not simply imitate but resituates the designs that he references. The ukiyo-e tattoo subjects are likewise paired with small images within the title cartouches which reflect the theme of the composition and other visual 'Easter eggs' that reference either the ukiyo-e artist or the theme of the tattoo.

set of 10: SOLD

Yoshitoshi-s Ghosts

A Hundred Shades of Ink of Edo: Kuniyoshi's Cats
(Edo zumi hyaku shoku: Kuniyoshi no neko)

the background printed with sumi ink bokashi of baren swirls, the series title cartouche in gold pigment in the upper right margin, the print title to the left with the first portion, Kuniyoshi no neko, in the style of Kuniyoshi's signature, with a cat grooming itself representing the 'neko' of the print title, signed in gold kanji, Bin-ni, with artist's cat-shaped seal that forms the letters Binnie, numbered and signed in pencil on the bottom margin, 90/100 Paul Binnie, ca. June 2004

dai oban tate-e 16 5/8 by 11 3/4 in., 42.3 by 30 cm

In addition to being one of the leading artists of warrior subjects, Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1798-1861) is fondly remembered for his depictions of cats, and in this first design of the series Binnie chose to commemorate that Edo-period artist's love of felines. Drawing from Kuniyoshi's ca. 1849 composition Cat's Suggested as the Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido Road, a triptych which depicts fifty-three cats (or groups of cats) each representing a station of the famous Edo Period highway that connected Edo and Kyoto, the figure's back tattoo contains upwards of eighteen cats in different postures. Binnie updated and strengthened the color of the cats' spots, providing the cats with a playful array of coats, and encapsulated the entire tattoo within a soft blue border.

Paul Binnie: A Dialogue with the Past - The First 100 Japanese Prints, 2007, p. 116, no. 79
Kuniyoshi's Cats of the Tokaido, ca. 1849,

Scholten Japanese Art is open Monday - Friday, and some Saturdays, 11am - 5pm, by appointment.

Contact Katherine Martin at
(212) 585-0474 or email
to schedule a visit.

site last updated
September 19, 2018

Scholten Japanese Art
145 West 58th Street, suite 6D
New York, New York 10019
ph: (212) 585-0474
fx: (212) 585-0475