The Thirty-Six New Views of Mount Fuji takes its starting point from Katsushika Hokusai’s Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji, a series of color woodblock prints that depict Mount Fuji from thirty-six different perspectives. They draw upon his motifs and those of other Western and Japanese artists, juxtaposing an idealized historical view of Mount Fuji and Japanese culture with the actual reality of contemporary society.
The images constitute a social critique while simultaneously posing a series of questions related to art history and the possibility of satire in contemporary society. As if through gaps in the clouds, the views offer random glimpses into the development of post-World War II Japan.
By comparing the often humorous and witty disparities between the original and the recomposed images, Seisai invites viewers to examine the differences between traditional and contemporary Japanese culture.
Edo-period Japan was a formidable consumer society, but it was also one based on an impressive model of sustainability. By contrast, modern consumer society cares too little for sustainability, and its reckless use of the earth’s resources has led to the destruction of our environment. Though the focus of the images is Japan, the broader issues, such as environmental destruction and mindless consumption, will strike a chord with viewers everywhere.
Deeply informed by Japan’s artistic tradition, the Thirty-Six New Views of Mount Fuji will encourage viewers to engage both aesthetically and intellectually on a broad range of issues. At the same time, many of the images are playful and fun, incorporating ideas of asobi (play), so important in traditional Japanese art. They will appeal to a large audience, both specialist and nonspecialist.