Hokusai’s Great Picture Book of Everything

This five-star exhibition showcased a collection of rare drawings by Katsushika Hokusai – one of Japan’s most celebrated artists.

From the words of its curator Alfred Haft:

“This group of 103 drawings(Banmotsu ehon daizen zu: Illustrations for the Great Picture Book of Everything) represents a major new discovery relating to Hokusai’s life and works. An amazing range of subjects is represented – figure (religious, mythological, historical, literary), animal, bird and flower and other natural phenomena, and landscape. As the subtitle ‘India, China’ signals, the group is dominated by subjects that relate to China, Southeast Asia, India and lands further west. Some of the same subjects can be found within Hokusai’s known oeuvre, but many are completely new discoveries.

Among the latter is a fascinating group of images which imagine the origins of human culture in ancient China – early forms of habitation, fire, agriculture, making rice wine and paper, among other scenes. All are treated with the customary fantasy, invention and brush skill found in Hokusai’s late works that could not be matched by any of his pupils – with the possible exception of his artist-daughter Eijo (art-name Ōi, about 1800-after 1857). Hokusai lived and worked with Eijo from around 1830 until his death in 1849, as presented in the British Museum exhibition Hokusai: Beyond the Great Wave in 2017.

The current numbering of the 103 drawings, written in pencil on the verso, appears to be random. It will be fascinating, as study of the drawings progresses, to propose groupings of related subjects and demonstrate how these relate to the wider Hokusai oeuvre. The group of drawings apparently has a secure date (9th month, 1829) and can be related stylistically to a group of 178 pages of similar block-ready drawings in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (1998.670.1-3).

The Boston drawings are bound together into the three-volume format in which it was intended that should be published (Thompson 2016). As with the present group, however, publication did not take place for some reason and so the block-ready drawings were not destroyed in the process of cutting the cherry-wood printing blocks. Such survivals are rare and in the case of Hokusai, they are a phenomenon of his later career, from his sixties onwards.

A handful of the drawings here can also be related to working sketches by Hokusai in an album in the Bibliothèque nationale, Paris (the so-called ‘Curtis’ album, Dd 3251 res). Integrated study of these three major groups of Hokusai’s drawings will revolutionise our understanding of his working method and artistic ambition.

The discovery of the drawings is additionally significant as it helps to fill in a hitherto relatively empty period in his career, the late 1820s. This was a time when Hokusai suffered a series of difficult personal challenges, including a stroke in 1827 or 1828, from which he recovered; the death of his second wife in 1828; and near destitution, as pleaded in a letter of the first month, 1830. This may have been the time when Hokusai’s daughter Eijo, herself a successful artist, came back to live and work with her father, following her divorce.”


Building a second brain

In this book the author Tiago Forte explains how to capture, remember, and benefit from the vast quantities of information around us by building a personal system for knowledge management. 

In today’s digital age, where the world’s knowledge is more accessible than ever, we’re paralyzed with indecision about where to focus our attention.

We need to manage information more effectively to get ahead and arm ourselves with the knowledge that will help us achieve our biggest, most audacious goals. We need, what Forte calls, a Second Brain.

Four essential capabilities
From Samuel Thomas Davies’ resume:

  1. Making our ideas concrete. An idea, in its infancy, is abstract. But when we turn an idea into a visual entity, such as a digital note, we can begin to move it from abstract to concrete.
  2. Revealing new associations between ideas. Formulating ideas is easier when we connect ideas. By keeping all our ideas in one place, we can inspire creativity and bridge gaps in our knowledge.
  3. Incubating our ideas over time. When we go beyond relying on ideas we can only think of right now, we draw on weeks, months, or even years of accumulated imagination.
  4. Sharpening our unique perspectives. All too often, our creative wells run dry, not because of something wrong with us, but because we don’t yet have enough raw materials to work with.


The importance of mobility

Especially for sedentary workers(aka tattooers) mobility is very important.

Bad postures kept over long hours repeatedly year after year can drastically shorten your working longevity.

Raise your hand if you ever had back pain, neck pain, shoulders pain… 🙋‍♂️


Some time ago I have interviewed Samuel Leon, personal trainer, boxing coach and CrossFit athlete from the UK, to shine some light on how to take care of our bodies with minimal commitment. Personally I like to think that prehab is better than rehab.

In this short video you can learn the basics of mobility and bring home a short routine that can help you mantain a more functional and pain free body.