Gyotaku: Impressions of the Sea
by Dwight Hwang
February 8 - 28, 2018
Meet the Artist Opening Reception
Thursday, February 8, 2018 7-9pm
The Japan Foundation, Los Angeles
(5700 Wilshire Blvd., #100 Los Angeles, CA 90036)
Street parking is available near JFLA. Click here for parking info.
Closed on Saturdays, Sundays and Monday, Feb. 19
Using Sumi ink, Washi paper, and the days catch, Gyotaku (gyo =fish, taku= stone rubbing) is the traditional method of printing fish in Japan. Originally, fishermen used Gyotaku as a way of documenting their catches, but since then it has become an art form of its own.
Strictly adopting the traditional technique and materials, the artwork by Dwight Hwang is so sophisticated and detailed as to seemingly give new life to the fish. His passion for fishing and love for marine creatures shines through each of his works, and the subjects he takes on in Gyotaku range widely from king salmon to giant octopus and spiny lobster.
“My many years in Japan have taught me many things. However, one that stands out and remains to sculpt how I view the Japanese approach to artistry is the cultural love and admiration for the 'Perfect Imperfection'. An appreciation and celebration of the part that makes something wonderfully unique.” (Dwight Hwang)
“Gyotaku: Impressions of the Sea” is a preview show for the exhibition to be held in summer 2018 at the Japan Foundation, Los Angeles in collaboration with LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art). In this exhibition, Dwight’s selected artwork showcases his unique style of fish printing. The preview show will run from February 8 to February 28, 2018, and a special artist reception will be held on Thursday, February 8, from 7 to 9pm.
Dwight Hwang’s obsessive love for fishing and his artistic ambitions came together during his many years in Japan on a visit to a cramped, dusty tackle shop. Pinned onto the walls and the ceiling were wrinkled sheets of rice paper with impressions of the prized catches by local anglers.
He was taken aback by what he saw but knew nothing about the art, until his fishing companions informed him that it was a cultural art that originated in Japan called ‘Gyotaku’. Something that only really found interest with old,salty fishermen or as an activity for young, curious children.
With no one to teach him, Dwight simply resorted to experimenting with sheets of cheap calligraphy paper and discount bottles of sumi ink. The results looked like messy black blotches that vaguely resembled what he was trying to print.
Together with his wife, he would continue to print fish on the floor of their humble apartment for years until he realized that the fish may be the subject, but it was also a tool in of itself. That realization would help him control his process so much that his prints not only began to look and remind him of his prized catch, but also gave him the confident flexibility to add what he hopes would set him apart; a sense of life, perspective and movement.
Dwight continues to strive to perfect his process while strictly and proudly using only the materials and techniques originally used hundreds of years ago.