Impressions of the Seas: Gyotaku Fish Prints
by Dwight Hwang
June 21, 2018 - July 21, 2018
Due to the popularity, we will be extending the exhibition until July 21!
The Japan Foundation, Los Angeles
(5700 Wilshire Blvd., #100 Los Angeles, CA 90036)
Street parking is available near JFLA. Click here for parking info.
Monday-Friday 10am-7pm, Saturday 12-5pm
Closed on Sundays and July 4
Japanese gyotaku (lit. ‘fish rubbing’) is the unlikely marriage of fish, sumi ink, and washi paper. Once used to record the size of an impressive catch, it has been elevated to a fine art through the efforts of gyotaku masters such as Yutaka Aso (1898-1961) and Yoshio Hiyama (b. 1909) and was introduced to the United States in the mid-20th century. Contemporary practitioners have supplanted the traditional method with modern acrylics and oil-based inks, as well as the inclusion of pigmentation by colored inks or through digital editing.
Dwight Hwang (b. 1974) is a Los Angeles-based, Korean-American storyboard artist who trained in gyotaku during a seven year stint in Japan. A self-taught traditionalist in that he almost exclusively creates black-and-white images with water-based sumi, Dwight brings life to lifeless forms through his innovative approach which has produced unique depictions of fish at a three quarter view and from above.
"Impressions of the Seas: Gyotaku Fish Prints" features a selection of prints depicting freshwater, coastal and open ocean specimens alongside objects which detail the gyotaku printmaking process.
- Michael VanHartingsveldt
This exhibition will be on view at the Japan Foundation, Los Angeles, from June 21 to July 13, 2018, with a pre-opening reception, a brief lecture by the curator and live demonstration by the artist on June 20. This event is open to the public.
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.
Fish generously provided by Catalina Offshore Products via an introduction by the Sushi Chef Institute, and by Longship Trading. Paper generously provided by Hiromi Paper. Food for reception generously provided by the Sotheby’s Institute of Art. Catalog created by Vivo Designs. Special thanks to Andy Matsuda and Jill Steggall.