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signed in kanji at lower left, Bin-ni, with artist’s red seal Binnie, numbered and signed in pencil along the bottom margin, 18/50 Paul Binnie, 2016
oban tate-e 16 1/8 by 11 1/8 in., 40.9 by 28.4 cm
This printed is the result of a special commission from the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College in Massachusetts. Binnie was asked to contribute an original work to the exhibition, Unimaginable by One Mind Alone: Exquisite Corpses from the William Green Collection of Japanese Prints, on view April 14 – July 24, 2016, which was organized by Bradley M. Bailey, Associate Curator of Asian Art at the Ackland Art Museum at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Bailey’s concept was inspired by a game played in 1925 by a group of influential Surrealists which produced phrase “The Exquisite Corpse” and the game evolved to include drawings, producing a surreal composite of images that only the seemingly random collaboration could produce.
For the exhibition, five artists were invited to collaborate with earlier Japanese prints artists, in this case an artist of the 18th century, Katsukawa Shuncho (active ca. 1783-1821), by completing the last panel of an incomplete triptych the museum has in its collection thanks to a bequest by William T. Green, a well-known New York collector of ukiyo-e who was one of the founding members of the Ukiyo-e Society (now known as the Japanese Art Society of America). The result is an amusing and rather surreal scene. Noting that the figures on the Shuncho panels are facing in the direction of the missing panel with some degree of interest and uncertainty, Binnie creates the ultimate (and at the time, impossible) East meets West moment. The Japanese beauties enjoying themselves in a garden face a bijin in the elaborate costume of an 18th century French beauty of the courts, complete with massive wide hipped skirt, tight corset with plunging décolleté, and an enormous white wig adorned with a clipper ship. She holds a European-style gilt-edged porcelain teacup on a saucer, and wears a Japanese inro (stacked lacquer box) in a most uncouth manner around her neck. The ladies to her immediate right look almost frightened at this curious creature who has crashed the private party.
Unimaginable by One Mind Alone: Exquisite Corpses from the William Green Collection of Japanese Prints, Mead Art Museum at Amherst College in Massachusetts, on view April 14 – July 24, 2016,