Godai: Japanese Woodcuts at Hove Museum

Until Nov 12

In the late 19th-century there was a craze in Europe for Japanese prints, notably in the style known as okiyo-e, meaning ‘pictures of the floating world’. Notable artists included Kunisada, Kunichika, Eizan Hiroshige, and, of course, Hokusai. 

The images usually showed the Japanese at play, but contained deeper hidden meaning, reflecting the Buddhist philosophy of godai, the symbiotic balance between five elements: earth, water, fire, wind and void.

These prints were exported en masse to Europe (often used as packaging; you could buy them at a snip) and were highly influential on the work of the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists, and Art Nouveau artists.

Brighton & Hove Museums has a beautifully preserved collection of such works, and throughout the summer and autumn there’s a rare opportunity to see them.