Japanese art from Hiroshige to Mazinga: ukiyo-e and manga on display in Sesto Fiorentino

From Jan. 6 to Jan. 31, Soffitta Spazio delle Arti in Sesto Fiorentino is hosting the exhibition 'Imagining Realities,' a survey of Japanese art from the 18th century to the early 20th century.

La Soffitta Spazio delle Arti in Sesto Fiorentino is hosting, from January 6 to 31, 2019, an exhibition dedicated to Japanese art between the 18th century and the early 20th century with a space also dedicated to the fascinating world of Manga. The exhibition, titled Imagining Reality, brings to the attention of the general public a selection of prints by Florentine collector Giancarlo Mariani.

The event is organized by the La Soffitta Spazio delle Arti Group of the Circolo Arci - Unione Operaia di Colonnata with the support of the City of Sesto Fiorentino and curated by Francesco Morena, former coordinator of important exhibitions on Japanese art held in Florence, Trieste and Milan.

The exhibition focuses mainly on the production of woodcut prints belonging to the genre ofUkiyo-e, the so-called “images of the floating world.” Originating in the urban sphere to depict the life and favorite pastimes of the then-emerging wealthy bourgeoisie ( Kabuki theater, sumo wrestling, traditional heroes, female beauties, landscape and nature), this art form had among its protagonists famous artists such as Utamaro, Hokusai and Hiroshige, whose works have become icons of Japanese art in the world.

Inside the gallery there is no shortage of a corner dedicated to the ancestors of Manga with a number of illustrated booklets from the 19th century; they will range from Hokusai’s earliest from 1814 to one by Gekko from 1900 via a large package from the 1840-60 period. In addition, the exhibition will also display toy robots of characters such as Daitarn and Mazinga, loaned by a private collector. During the days of the exhibition there will also be a showcase of some prints from the Mariani Collection inside the Ernesto Ragionieri Municipal Library in Doccia, which will in turn lend a selection of Japanese comics and videos in Italian from the Marco Totti Fund.

“We are proud to be able to present such a rich treasure trove of Japanese art to our public,” stresses Francesco Mariani, head of the La Soffitta Spazio delle Arti Group and president of the Circolo Arci-Unione Operaia in Colonnata. “The collection of our friend Giancarlo Mariani is truly unique in quality and breadth of view on the culture of the Rising Sun. It is an event absolutely not to be missed.”

“The cut of the exhibition wants to have scientific rigor,” adds the curator, Francesco Morena, “but at the same time a didactic and popular approach, which can appeal to a wide audience as much as possible, especially those age groups that have a certain affinity with Japanese culture, spread widely through popular art forms such as Manga comics and Anime cartoons. In fact, Ukiyo-e woodcuts blatantly inspired these forms of contemporary culture, and the very term Manga, used to identify comic books, derives from a celebrated work by Hokusai, which will be among those included in the exhibition path proposed here.”

“This collection was born thanks to my father,” says Giancarlo Mariani, "who brought the first drawings from Japan after World War II. By rediscovering those unique pieces I became passionate about Japanese culture, and slowly, by going to Japan several times, I collected prints, comics and more. Today Japan is a part of me.

This exhibition, which will have in the prints the main protagonists, also wants to enhance the planet of Manga that have characterized, especially with the robot series, the youth of many generations in Italy as well. And in this sense we are thinking of special events on some weekends of the opening period to give special moments especially to the youngest."
The exhibition Imagining Reality will be opened in Sesto Fiorentino at La Soffitta Spazio delle Arti, on the second floor of the Circolo Arci-Unione Operaia in Colonnata, on Sunday, Jan. 6, at 10:30 a.m.

The exhibition will then be on view until the end of the month with free admission with the following hours: Sunday 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., Monday closed. Admission to the exhibition, which runs until Jan. 31, is free.

Pictured: Utagawa Hiroshige, Cranes flying over the waves (1858)

Japanese art from Hiroshige to Mazinga: ukiyo-e and manga on display in Sesto Fiorentino
Japanese art from Hiroshige to Mazinga: ukiyo-e and manga on display in Sesto Fiorentino

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