Part of our World In Colour Season

1 Apr 2023  11 Feb 2024

Gallery 29

Admission is FREE

Japanese artist Takahashi Hiromitsu creates dynamic, colourful prints showing exciting moments in kabuki, Japan’s traditional dance-drama.

Hiromitsu’s striking designs are not portraits of actual actors, but visualisations of famous kabuki roles.

In kabuki, performers wearing elaborate costumes and make-up use stylised movement and song to enact melodramatic stories about love, loyalty and the clash between duty and emotion.

Figure chasing a bat with a spear against a blue sky - kabuki stencil print - by Japanese artist Takahashi Hiromitsu, 1998
Figure chasing a bat with the moon and blue sky - kabuki stencil print - by Japanese artist Takahashi Hiromitsu, 1998

Gojōbashi Benkei and Gojōbashi Ushiwaka by Takahashi Hiromitsu, 1998


The works recall Japan’s traditional ukiyo-e woodblock actor prints, but are made using a different technique – kappazuri, or stencil printing, originally used for dyeing kimono. This process is complex and labour-intensive and Hiromitsu is one of very few artists working in this way today.

This exhibition showcases a selection of these unusual prints from the Ashmolean's own extensive collection of Hiromitsu's work, generously presented by Philip Harris.

Images in page header above and below all © Hiromitsu Takahashi / The Tolman Collection


Curator Clare Pollard introduces Hiromitsu's exhibition and printmaking techniques