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each impression with varying ‘tears’ in the mica background, signed at the lower right in kanji, Bin-ni, followed by artist’s red seal Binnie, the series title on the upper left margin, Azuma nishiki bijin awase, the print title on the lower left margin, Asa ni Namida, embossed Binnie at the center of the bottom margin, and numbered and signed in pencil, 17/100, Paul Binnie, April 2009
dai oban tate-e 17 3/4 by 12 1/4 in., 45 by 31 cm
In this latest addition to the Collection of Eastern Brocade Beauties series Binnie presents an unusual composition. While the subject of a bare-breasted beauty set against a mica ground is classic ukyio-e (and shin hanga), the portrayal of real emotion is a startling departure from the idealized Japanese woman typically depicted by most shin hanga artists. The title alone, ‘Morning Tears,’ brings to mind Torii Kotondo’s notorious 1930 print, ‘Morning Hair’ (Asa ne Gami; lit. ‘hair after waking late’)- a hauntingly beautiful bust portrait of a woman with slightly tussled hair and a far away gaze. The suggestive title and her ambiguous expression left far too much room for interpretation to the Japanese authorities, who reportedly confiscated the original woodblocks and unsold impressions. While the title of this Binnie print may (consciously or not) be a subtle reference to ‘Morning Hair’, the subject is quite different. With ‘Morning Tears,’ Binnie challenges the viewer. He presents us with a classic beauty (although her face is hidden), but this is no empty vessel, there are emotions to contend with. The mica background (a lavish embellishment usually reserved for the most idealized beauties) is intentionally imperfect; each print has a splatter of hand-applied nikawa (glue sizing) ‘tears’ breaking the pristine glimmer. While her emotional state is unambiguous….the actual cause of her despair is left to our interpretation.
This impression (17/100) sold- three other impressions are available (46/100, 47/100 and 49/100).