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NGV Rolls Out The Big Wave

If you are looking for things to do in Melbourne, a new exhibition has rolled into the National Gallery of Victoria.

Hokusai is the first major presentation in Australia of one of Japan’s most influential, prolific and everlastingly popular artists, Katsushika Hokusai (1760 – 1849). An influential master of Japanese manga and a self-proclaimed ‘drawing maniac’, Hokusai produced a body of work comprising some of the most recognisable and reproduced images in the history of Asian art, most notably ‘The great wave’.

Spanning the artist’s entire career, Hokusai includes more than 170 works by the artist, comprising woodblock prints, rare paintings on silk never-before-seen in Australia and hand-printed manga (illustrated books).

The exhibition also features all fifteen editions of The Hokusai Manga, the artist’s irreverent homage to Japanese humorous illustrations, which had an indelible impact on the development of contemporary manga in Japan and positioned Hokusai as a pioneer of the popular form.

‘Katsushika Hokusai is considered one of Japan’s greatest and enduringly popular artists. His moving and dramatic compositions, including The great wave, show the coexistence between humanity and the awesome power of nature, a relationship that is as relevant today as it was in the nineteenth century,’ said Tony Ellwood, Director, NGV.

‘The unprecedented Australian exhibition, Hokusai, offers audiences a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness the artist’s influential legacy in one of the most comprehensive exhibitions ever staged outside of Japan,’ said Ellwood.

‘Hokusai’s works have inspired countless travellers from all over the world to come to Japan and experience first-hand the landscapes that influenced the celebrated artist. Hokusai’s works embody the inspiration and creativity that travel elicits, qualities which are greatly valued by Japan Airlines. We are pleased to be supporting the National Gallery of Victoria, an organisation that has championed the artistic and cultural contributions of Japan in its collection for over 155 years,’ said Mark Lucas, General Manager, JAL Australia & New Zealand.
The great wave off Kanagawa was acquired for the NGV Collection in 1909. In Hokusai, this work, rarely displayed due to its fragility and light sensitivity, is exhibited alongside a corresponding early impression of the same great wave from JUM’s collection, offering a fascinating scholarly assessment of the prints 180 years after they were created.

Katsushika Hokusai is lauded for his wondrously colourful images that celebrate everyday life and people’s relationship to nature, often depicting the merchant class of Edo period Japan in recognisable situations and landscapes.

Hokusai’s work had a transformative impact on Japanese art; he was at the forefront of new technologies, using the latest and most vibrant colours as they became available, such as Prussian blue, and his experimentation with design, composition and perspective introduced a three-dimensionality to the traditionally two-dimensional Japanese pictorial aesthetic.


The Details

21 July 17 – 15 October 2017

NGV International, 180 St Kilda Road, Melbourne, Australia.

Tickets and information are available from

Adult $16 | Concession $13 | Child (5 – 15 years) $7 | Family (2 adults + 3 children) $41

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