Daily Art: Katsushika Oi

Oh hi. Welcome back.

You probably know this painting

Probably this one too

But I’ll bet that you don’t know this one

Would it shock you to know that all of them come from the same family?

That’s right, perhaps the greatest of all Japanese artists Hokusai was not the only in his family with a brilliant legacy of art. In fact even he himself would argue that one among his lineage surpassed him

That is, Katsushika Oi! The daughter of Hokusai, an oft shrouded figure whose artistic legacy remains confusing though the sheer talent certainly not.

Oi from the beginning of her life had grown up with the expectation of working with art. She grew working with her father in his workshop, oftentimes assisting him with various works. When she married Minamizawa Tomei later their marriage fell apart after only 3 years due to Oi being unable to stand Tomei’s subpar work and laughing at him as a result.

So, Oi went back to Hokusai’s work and continued to assist her father. They worked as a brilliant pair with Oi often adding in details which Hokusai forgot. Along the way Oi had the chance to even showcase some of her own works, though much of it is sadly lost or unknown.

(Three Women Playing Musical Instruments, by Katsushika Oi, 1850)

(Cherry Blossoms at Night, by Katsushika Oi, 1850)

Oi was unequivocally brilliant at technical drawings of people, especially women which her father Hokusai had always struggled with.

I do think this piece (Display Room in Yoshiwara at Night, by Katsushika Oi, 1840s) is absolutely her masterpiece. Just look at the vivid use of color, the complex shading and the artful obscuration of the central women. Fantastic! I think it really is quite strikingly detailed compare to a lot of ukiyo-e work, with the way that the lanterns and other light cut through the darkness in the foreground. Here, by enveloping the courtesans and their world in darkness, as it would be in reality, the pleasure districts being a place of light in the midst of a mysterious night.

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