David Bowie, who passed away in 2016, had a very special connection – some may even call it a “love affair” – with Japan. He originally developed his affinity after taking an interest in Kabuki and was heavily influenced by the exaggerated gestures, costumes and make-up. He later went on to work with fashion designer Kansai Yamamoto on many iconic costumes, as well as with musicians like Tomoyasu Hotei and the filmmaker Nagisa Oshima. In a sense, the love affair has come full circle and now a project has been announced to immortalize David Bowie in the form of ukiyo-e woodblock prints that depict Bowie in elements of kabuki.
Two unique prints were announced last month from Ukiyo-e Project, an organization that creates contemporary Ukiyo-e based on elements of pop culture. Each of the prints are inspired by iconic photo shoots of Bowie, which have been translated to woodblock print by ukiyo-e artist Masumi Ishikawa.
One of these is inspired by Brian Duffy’s photograph of a bare-chested Bowie with a red lightning bolt scrawled across his face the cover of “Aladdin Sane” (1973). For the ukiyo-e print, the artist imagines Bowie as Kidomaru, a fictitious snake charmer from the Kamakura period.
The second print was inspired by Terry O’Neill’s “Diamond Dogs” promotional photograph (1974) in which Bowie is posing with a large barking dog. For this ukiyo-e print the artist imagines Bowie as Takezawa Toji, a magician and entertainer who was often depicted by Utagawa Kuniyoshi.
The prints will be on display, and available for sale (priced at 100,000 yen) at the Marc Jacobs-owned BOOKMARC in Omotesando from June 23 – July 1, 2018. The final prints will be displayed alongside photos of David Bowie, as well as other materials that show the process of creating the woodblock prints. (Syndicated from Spoon & Tamago)