Hokusai Exposed

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Hokusai Exposed

For three weeks, The Old Truman Brewery in Brick Lane will be transformed into old Tokyo as it hosts an immersive exhibition at which visitors will be transported back to the eighteenth century, when the Japanese capital was known as Edo. Three-dimensional streets – including an over-18s red-light district – will recreate the ambience of the period, but these won’t be the only recreations. Molecular biologist Dr Shin-Ichi Fukuoka’s ‘Re-Create’ concept – which uses digital mastering and UV printing technology to reimagine revered artworks as they might have been when first created (as distinct from replicating or imitating them) – will be showcased outside Japan for the first time with a display based on ‘Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji’, the renowned series by Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849).

Fukuoka has digitally restored the 36 images – which show aspects of Mount Fuji in different seasons – so they can be projected around the exhibition on a larger scale than the original woodblock prints and with the vibrancy they would have had when Hokusai first made them.

In the restricted over-18s area, traditional chochins (lanterns) will light visitors’ way through Edo’s illicit backstreets and illuminate Hokusai’s shunga (erotic art), leading finally to ‘Dreams of the Fisherman’s Wife’, Hokusai’s famous 1814 painting of tentacle erotica. ‘Hokusai Exposed’ isn’t just a step back in time, it’s another world. Danielle Goldstein


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ken tomkomai

I like the idea of digital re-interpretation of the works of a Japanese old master, Katsushika Hokusai. A variety of attractions are in it. It took 40-50 minutes for me to look around, that was too long.


Having read the art blog on The Guardian, I wasn't expecting much but it was raining and I had an hour to kill in Brick Lane waiting for a friend so I ended up spending my beer money for the exhibition. AND WTF it was totally worth it. The projection mapping video installation was my favorite!!!

Ciara Phelan

I felt compelled to write about my experience as it was completely at odds with the Timeout review. I found the whole exhibition to be extremely disappointing and a waste of the small amount of money I paid to look round. I am a long time fan of Hokusai so it was great to see his 36 views of Fuji in one place, however the "digital remastering and UV printing technology" seemed to be little more than someone upping the saturation level and printing on a good paper stock. Unfortunately upstairs was the highlight of the show. Downstairs in the basement the audience is treated to an "immersive exhibition with lanterns and three-dimensional streets". Indeed there were lanterns but almost certainly they were a last minute attempt to hide the low res print quality and inject some much need atmosphere into an otherwise dank and smelly basement. Once you have squinted your way round three small and underwhelming rooms you are handed some 3D glasses and told enter the "red light district" where you can enjoy some of Hokusai's exotic art re-imagined in 3D. This may sound like an exciting twist but dont get ahead of yourself, this is not James Cameron's Avatar, it is a series of beautiful 18th century paintings that have been bastardised to add a kooky twist to an otherwise average sensory experience. Overall I found this exhibition to be over-hyped and over-rated. I think you would have a more immersive experience if you spent the afternoon viewing Hokusai's artwork on Google Images.


Really good opportunity to see all of Hokusai's views of Mount Fuji in one place, beautifully remastered. The old Edo street in the basement is definitely a fun addition and I would recommend visiting the Sake bar too!


Having limited experience with the full range of Hokusai paintings, I was impressed by the large collection of paintings present at this exhibition. The digitally restored images of the Mt Fuji series were, in my opinion, fascinating and well-done. I think the layout and flow of the first floor of the exhibition added to the overall experience. The re-creation of old Edo proved the highlight of the entire exhibition. The combination of having to use lanterns and the bare surroundings of the lower floor area, made for an interesting discovery of the various drawings along the walls of the space. Overall, I thought this exhibition was compelling and I would recommend it to anyone interested in Japanese art and culture.


Having been to see the shunga at the British Museum already, it was interesting to see them presented in a completely different light (literally, lantern light) here. It was certainly an experience to see them in 3D too. The skill and detail of the manga is also beautiful. The projection installation was an interesting addition and was atmospheric in the dark basement space.


The pictures of Fuji that had been re-created were lovely and it was a good experience to see them all together in one space. I was also able to try some premium sake for the first time at the bar which has a "floating" roof.


I was very disappointed with this exhibition. It sounded fascinating but it was not how I imagined it to be. The images of Fuji were interesting but the backstreets were not very exciting. At the end I thought "Is this it?"