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Ukiyoe

The Ukiyoe School is typical for a nation cut off from the outside world.It is an art form purely and solely it's own.More than any others in the world, the Japanse have learned how to enhance nature thru human creation. From the magnificent Ise Shrine through the Katsura Detached Villa and down to simple tea houses, they seemed to surpass nature as a creative force. They can take a pine tree and mutilate it--cutting it, twisting it, plucking it--but
what remains looks more like a pine tree than anything nature could
have made on its own. Even the common flower arrangements tend to
make the flowers look more important, more beautiful than they were
in the wild.

In the same way, Ukiyoe artists have taken the female form --and mutilated it. They hide every natural curve with layers and layers of brilliantly colored kimonos; breasts are submerged under an obi which protrudes in the most unrealistic directions; the face is painted formless white and the teeth a non-existent black; her hair is waxed and piled high and plied with sticks and ornaments; her body is elongated by forcing her upon wooden stilts; and yet what emerges from this artificial contortion is an overwhelming sense of
.....femininity.

This ability to reconstruct nature and actually improve upon it is an essential characteristic of Japanese Edo painting.

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