Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Do Not Mess With Fish 213,

and you thought fish were fun!

well it was not fun when you told someone how big the fish was you caught, and they do not believe you, so what to do in the days before cameras? the Japanese came up with a unique printing method called Gyotaku, Gyo means fish, and Taku means impression, and the technique involved just that – using freshly caught fish to make inky impressions on paper, 

hundreds of years ago, Japanese fishermen would take paper, ink and brushes out to sea with them, they would rub the fish they caught with the non-toxic sumi-e ink and then print them on rice paper, most of the fish were then cleaned and sold in markets, but a few revered ones were released back into the ocean, in the mid-1800s, fishermen began to add eye details and other embellishments, giving rise to a unique art form, over the years this practice has slowly died out, 

today, however, the form has been revived – modern artists, through trial and error, have formed their own Gyotaku techniques, they start by cleaning the fish and preparing it for printing, once it’s dry, they pin the fins to a board and use one of two methods to print, in the direct method, the ink is brushed directly onto the fish and moist rice paper is then pressed on top, in the indirect method, the paper is first pasted on the fish using rice paste, then, a cotton ball covered in silk is used to spread ink on the paper, peeling the paper off without tearing is quite tricky, so not many artists prefer this technique, irrespective of the method used, no two prints are identical, 

to see more Gyotaku art, you could check two of the foremost artists in the field, Naoki’s work on his website, and Fortner’s work on hers and in case you fancy having a go yourself here is the video,

but be prepared to get a bit messy as the process is very hands on, think gutting fish, but still interesting to watch.

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