The objective of the paper is to write the view of gender and art. The artwork chosen here is a Woodblock print – Umbrella by the Artist: Toshi Yoshida. The print is a striking picture of two Japanese women carrying bright umbrellas. The paper analyzes the print and tries to offer a specific description of the artwork as well as what the composition talks about in terms of line, color, movement, etc.
It is common to come across Gender presentations in art forms and styles for defining social identity through a cultural process. When one refers to gender, it points to the rights and privileges of women and the emergence of feminism over the centuries. Historically, men have been the dominant gender in the in patriarchal societies. Thus, it is no surprise to see the art styles and subjects pointing to the discrimination in the gender. Traditionally, the gender themes revolve around female sexuality. The femme fatale have often been represented as a lover or courtesan and as an object of beauty and desire (Gilboa, 2005).
It is true that men and women have been made differently, as women can bear children while men cannot. However, women do not carry the physical strength of men. There have been further distinctions made for women, based on the race and color (Barnet, 2015). How women get displayed in art and whether women are displayed for their physical attributes or their identity is a widely discussed topic.
Socially speaking, there are well-defined roles for men and women. In the gender system, men and muscularity are placed at the top while women and femininity are at the bottom (The social construction of difference and inequality). These ideas influence the way we think and express our views. It is easy to come across those highly opinionated views in art and culture. Women are expected to dress, behave and handle certain tasks that are expected of them. There are some options available when it comes to Japanese woodblock prints. The artwork picked for analyzing is a Woodblock print – Umbrella by Toshi Yoshida (Toshi Yoshida, 2010), which was made by the artist in 1993.
Yoshida's 1940 print "Umbrella" Yoshida, a Japanese printmaking artist, spent his childhood watching animals and his father's printmaking workshop. The woodblock print from the artist is not easily available often. Toshi was raised in a household of art and started learning painting at a very early age. He opened his printmaking studio in 1925 where he created his woodblock print images. He had complete control over his works artistically (Toshi Yoshida Prints -- 'Pencil-Signed' vs 'Block-Signed' Editions", 2006).
If one looks at “Umbrella”, the woodblock print is very delicate to look at. There is a skillful application of colors and contrasts. What attracts the eyes are the two women in bright kimonos dresses and holding their umbrellas. The background is dull in comparison, but the wet pavement is very life like. Aesthetically speaking, one is left with a feeling of satisfaction. The colors are soft and gentle, and the color scheme is very soothing.
The two women are distinctly Japanese with delicate features and pale complexion. They are covered head to toe in Kimonos, and their feet are partly visible in their shoes. The lady in orange kimono is holding a gray umbrella bordered with blue while the woman in blue dress holds an orange umbrella. If one looks at the dresses of the women, they carry delicate prints. The artist has used good contrasts here so as to show his subjects in the print clearly. The hair of the women is neatly tied back, and they are looking down. It is apparently raining in the scene as one sees other people in the background with umbrellas. The road is wet as one can see the reflections of the building and the women clearly. The artist has tried to lend a life-like an essence to the print.
In the background of the print, one finds the buildings in the distinctive architecture, but in dull hues. This has been done purposely to show the contrast of the two women holding umbrellas and make them the focal point of the picture. The father end of the buildings is hazy and unclear. A group of men is sitting in the first building, which is presumably a shop on the street and discussing something. There is a dull colored umbrella that stands close by. One can see the typical Japanese architecture with sloping tiled roofs. The colors used are dull whites, browns and grays for the building. The street is dull grey and looks wet because of the fresh rains, while the sky is dull due to the clouds.
The first thing that strikes you when you see Umbrella by Toshi Yoshida is the two women carrying the umbrellas. I feel that the picture lends a feel of calmness, and it gives one a pleasant experience as they look at the details of the print. Every object has a clear outline that lends it a clear presence in the picture with no ambiguity. It seems that the artist is clear as to what he wants to show to the viewers. The lines in the print are clear but soft at the same time. One is forced to go over the details of the two women, their faces and the dress they are wearing as well as the umbrellas. You wonder about the women, their lives and where they are going.
If one observes closely, it is clear that the two women are out on some household errand as one of them is holding a small bundle in red shade. The two women are together is apparent as they are walking very close. They are traditional as they are wearing traditional dress. One can say that they are abiding by the rules of the society set for them in how they dress, walk and talk. They have a solemn expression and downcast eyes, so as to not to attract any attention on the street. Their big sized umbrellas are offering them good coverage from the rain. The men in the background are shown to work in a shop and are seen busy doing some serious work. One can sense gender differentiation here in the way the men and the women are projected in the print “Umbrella” by Toshi Yoshida. The men are dressed in sober colors doing serious work while the women are dressed in brightly colored clothes and out on some unimportant house errand.
References Barnet, S. (2015). A Short Guide to Writing about Art. Art Education, 220-245.Gilboa, A. (2005). Gender in Art. Retrieved July 6, 2015, from http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3424300308.html Toshi Yoshida. (2010). Retrieved July 6, 2015, from http://japaneseartsgallery.com/gallery/woodblock-prints/toshi-yoshida/nggallery/image/toshi- yoshida-umbrella-posthumous-sold/ "Toshi Yoshida Prints -- 'Pencil-Signed' vs 'Block-Signed' Editions" (2006). Retrieved July 6, 2015.The social construction of difference and inequality : Race, class, gender, and sexuality by tracy E. ore. (2008). Asian Women, 24(4), 89-95.