03 February, 2011

3 Feb - Noah Fisher: Tentacle Erotica

LAUNCHPROJECTS - Our opening tonight will feature an exquisite watercolor on paper by Noah Fisher (image right) based on an 1814 Japanese woodcut The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife by Japanese artist Hokusai (pictured left). It is the most famous woodcut Hokusai ever produced and is in the style of "shunga," a form of erotic art.

Japanese scholar Danielle Talerico describes that The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife illustrates the legend of Princess Tamatori, a shell diver who marries a man searching for a pearl stolen from his family by Ryūjin, the dragon god of the sea. Tamatori vows to help her husband and dives down to Ryūjin's undersea palace. There she is pursued by the god and his army of sea creatures, including octopi. She cuts open her own breast and places the jewel inside; this allows her to swim faster and escape, but she dies from her wound soon after reaching the surface.

Popular throughout Japan, the story and its imagery are the subject of works by artists including Utagawa Kuniyoshi, Yanagawa Shigenobu (above left), Japanese-American artist Masami Teraoka (above right) - even Picasso did a version in 1903. This tale is also considered the precursor to "tentacle erotica," a common thread in late 20th century and contemporary Japanese animation and manga. Fisher is in a long and fascinating tradition of re-imaging this potent and darkly beguiling legend.

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