Hokusai Katsushika’s ‘Under The Great Wave off Kanagawa’ is among the world’s most recognisable images. Published in 1832, the Japanese ukiyo-e print pictures a tidal wave alongside Mount Fuji. It is a vestige of Japan’s isolation, as well as its cross-cultural exchange with Europe. For one, the work features Prussian Blue – a shade that in 1832 was only available in Europe. After the ports opened in 1853, the image was dispersed throughout Europe and America where it influenced Van Gogh, Whistler and Monet.
‘The Great Wave…’ symbolises a shift in Japanese culture. The sea, emblematic of foreign influence and uncertainty, is juxtaposed against Mount Fuji, the stoic soul of Japan. Before Japan opened itself to the world, the sea was understood as a protective barrier. Under Hokusai’s eye however, it evolves into a site of disruptiveness – as capable of positive flow as it is of destruction.
In his remix, Philippe Le Miere calls forth this tension. By titling the homage ‘Maelstrom’ - a term denoting a whirlpool - he calls forth the nexus of cultural mythologies sprung from ‘The Great Wave…’. There is a double coding here – his subject is so ubiquitous now that it is famous for being famous; it is a consumerist icon while simultaneously a historical document.
Le Miere is a shape-shifter of cultural icons. Taking the familiar and refracting it through his imagination, his wonderfully weird vision sees our visual vocabulary rendered surreal. Le Miere has earned a reputation for a style that is as original, as it is witty. For admirers of ‘The Great Wave…’, art history and pop art, ‘Maelstrom’ is sure to inspire. It is a vibrant oil on canvas, a precursor to his 2014 exhibition 'Symbols of Transformation'.
Philippe LE MIERE (1975 - )
oil on canvas
Image Size: 51 x 66 cm
Dimensions: 51 x 66 x 4 cm
Signed: signed lower right 'Le Miere'
Availability: in stock
Condition:Excellent. Stretched. Comes with string and D-rings ready to hang.
© The Artist or Assignee