Kitagawa Utamaro

Kitagawa Utamaro
Ikon Gallery, Birmingham
22 September -14 November

With the help of artist Julian Opie, and Timothy Clark who is the head of the Japanese Section in the British Museum, there is the opportunity to catch a rare glimpse into 18th century life. Utamaro lived in Edo and painted beautifully delicate woodblock prints detailing the life he saw around him, although be warned that life in his part of town was less than savoury.

The intricate depictions are of the women who populated the Yoshiwara district of Edo, an area otherwise known as the regulated brothel district. His works show these courtesans in alluring poses, exposing the most private areas of the anatomy in a deliberate manner to gain the attention of the observer.

The provocative nature of his work, not just in the sexual sense, shows the relevance of Utamaro to a contemporary audience by his willingness to provoke a reaction from those who view his work.

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