The Great Wave off Kanagawa 1832 by Hokusai is considered to be the greatest of all Japanese art prints. Here it is depicted as a large painting in an art show. A woman with a tattoo of Mt. Fuji on her back, an image she cannot see on her back nor in the painting, stares at it.
Mt. Fuji is a scared symbol of national identity in Japan, a natural wonder that is worshipped in order to attain purity of spirit. Those who cannot see it are not in line with Japanese traditions of purity. Van Gogh had seen the print and was impressed by its power.
There have been several appropriations of The Great Wave in Western art, most notably, a Starry Night rendering that looks like it was painted by Van Gogh. It is symbolic of the invasion of Western culture into Japan and the westernization of its society that took place in the 20th century, especially after 1945 when Shinto was abandoned as the state religion.
In this painting, Mt. Fuji is absent, a reversal questioning the superiority of Western art. It is a withdrawal of the cultural invasion and attempts to clarify the identity of The Great Wave.
The Great Wave can now achieve its moral intent inside a tent at East St. and inside a tent at this art festival, a homage to the naturalism of the original artwork.
On the left is a Zen haiku by Basho, a very different orientation than Shinto.
Japanese Mount Fuji, Art Festivals, Art Tent, Hokusai, Great Wave, Original Painting