Paul Binnie

Paul Binnie “Kabukichō” main image
Paul Binnie
Japanese title
Series title
Colour woodblock print on paper
Paper dimensions (h × w)
Image dimensions (h × w)
Edition size
Artist's proofs
Kabuki actors (Yakusha-e 役者絵)
"The old blocks of two Kabuki actors were incorporated into a busy street scene in Shinjuku, modern Tokyo’s bustling pleasure district. The various characters in the crowd were drawn from real people and there are some word games within the signs above. Kabukicho, the print title, and Hanga Dori, the series title, appear alongside the phrase ‘chō beli kabuki’ (it’s really very Kabuki) on the right sheet. The left sheet has the question and answer ‘ukiyo e? ukie yo!’ (Is it Ukiyo-e? It’s a perspective picture in fact!). At 81 colors, this is the most separate printings I have ever used in a woodblock print so far.
"Right hand sheet of diptych. Finally after a very long development this print is complete, my tribute to Toshūsai Sharaku, whose print of the Kabuki actors Matsumoto Koshiro IV and Nakayama Tomisaburo I from 1794 was the starting point of this design. Two years ago I bought a set of blocks to make this actor design and decided to incorporate them into a piece of my own, placing these 18th century Kabuki actors into contemporary Tokyo, appropriately enough in Kabukicho. I have printed the actors in a muted, faded palette to bring to mind old prints of the past and this sheet employed the 10 colors of the reproduction blocks plus 36 more, making 46 colors in total here.
"Left hand sheet of diptych. The left hand sheet of this diptych is all my own design made to allow a broader scope to the image; diptychs and triptychs were popular in Ukiyo-e (Floating World Pictures), Japanese woodblock prints of the 18th and 19th century. This sheet will also be created as a stand-alone design whenever I eventually receive paper from Japan, and it uses 35 colors, bringing the total number used on this piece to 81. Some colors appear on both sheets for continuity between the two sides but many colors are used in only one area." May 2020
Catalogue number
177 (L442)
Supplementary images
Paul Binnie “Kabukichō” Sharaku thumbnailSharaku
Paul Binnie “Kabukichō” Process print thumbnailProcess print
Paul Binnie “Kabukichō” Block and LHS thumbnailBlock and LHS
Paul Binnie “Kabukichō” Block and RHS thumbnailBlock and RHS