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Kasen

Ohira Kasen

1900-1983

Twenty-Four Figures of Charming Women: Tissues (suggested title)
(Adesugata Nijushiko: Kaishi)

with very fine karazuri (blind printing) on her nose and woven fabric of her futon in the foreground, and with metallic embellishment of the chrysanthemum pattern on the fusuma panel in the background, the red cartouche at the upper right corner with the series title, Adesugata nijushiko, signed at lower left, Kasen, with artist's red circular seal, Kasen, publisher's mark Yama-se, and seal at lower left corner, Hanken shoyu fukyo fukusei, Shinbisha (copyright ownership, reproduction not allowed, Shinbisha), ca. 1931

dai oban tate-e 17 3/8 by 11 3/8 in., 44.2 by 29 cm

A disheveled beauty wearing a red under-robe falling from her shoulders and revealing a breast. She sits with one leg folded beneath her, the garment pulled aside to expose much of her upper thigh. Wisps of longer strands of hair fall at her neck, the rest loosely secured behind, leaving enough length to reach her chin, a style mimicking the ‘bob’ which was favored by moga (shortened from modan garu, ‘modern girl’). She grips a small pile of tissues folded between her teeth, a gesture which can be suggestive. In ukiyo-e, the act of biting something usually implies emotional or sexual suppression; and while the tissues themselves may be ordinary kaishi (tissues carried for a multitude of personal uses), they also recall the okotogami (lit. ‘paper for the honourable act’) used by courtesans and often found in shunga (erotic) prints.

Ohira Kasen (given name Masao), studied with Matsubayashi Keigetsu (1876-1963), a kuchi-e illustrator who became a leading Nanga artist. In addition to this series, Kasen designed another bijinga series, Twenty-four Sections of Tokyo which was also published by Shinbisha.

Reference:
Brown, Kendall, Light and Darkness: Women in Japanese Prints of Early Showa (1926-1945), p., 61, cat no. 70 (inv. no. 10-4813)

price: $ 1,500

kikumon

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Scholten Japanese Art
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