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Hokusai Exposed: Re-Create

Tuesday 12 November 2013
Words Spindle

Ever heard of an exhibition that re-creates? Do you even know what that means? I’m not patronising, as I didn’t, particularly when this given concept sends my head into a hangover that questions existence as we know it.

What is “re-create”? It is not the replication or the imitation of an artwork, nor the process of cleaning or restoration. It is not a contemporary representation of the artwork, nor a re-interpretation inspired by the artwork.

In a nutshell though, as it’s always handy to talk in nutshells, re-create is quite simply… creating old artwork again! But this time round through modern means, going heavy on technology and the obscurity that we abide by so it seems. That’s the simplified Charlie explanation.

The targeted artist for this FUTURISTIC project was Hokusai, a man born in 1760. He lived to 1849. Not in years, but the year itself. Apologies for the Carol Vorderman math intermission.


The artist had a mania for drawing the shapes of things, with something so delicately simple about the paintings, where pencil people whispered perfectly into watercolour air. Yes, his work has the calming ability to encourage poetic jargon out of me for a split second. Check, out, his waves. Seriously, the best waves you’ll see.

Anyway, onto the recreation. The exhibition leads you down the stairs in the Brick lane Truman Brewery, where a lady is sat with a table of lanterns. Like an obscure seller at a car boot sale that you TOTALLY want to check out. The basement is dark, so naturally, with good manners, she offers you a lantern. I carried it far too securely in fear of hot oil dripping on me. Turned out it was a battery light for atmospheric effect, but this is irrelevant as the lanterns were a well nice touch.

In the basement another lady, from another stall, gave us 3D glasses, to which layered Japanese lesbian illustration porn came to life without my permission. And we were encouraged to hover our lanterns against black walls to discover sinister paintings of drunk looking skulls. The really impressive aspect was the video projection that pumped up a wall. Hokusai’s art literally come to life, changing emotions, going technical, playing, and being rather fucked up at times. But this was art that breathed life, mixing vintage with futuristic for something so refreshing and original. You’re left confused as to what side you appreciate more.

Find out more HERE.

Words: Charlie Matthews