March 26 - June 15, 2015 | Curated by Barry Till

Kabuki is a classical Japanese dance-drama, which originated in the 17th century. Kabuki theatre is known for the stylization of its drama and for the elaborate make-up worn by some of its performers. It became a common form of entertainment in the registered red-light district in old Tokyo. A crowd of various social classes gathered under one roof for the performances, something that happened nowhere else in the city. The Kabuki stage provided exciting entertainment with new music and dance performed by famous (all male) actors.

The stage features a walkway which extends into the audience and via which dramatic entrances and exits are made.  Performances went from morning until sunset. The area around the theatres was lush with shops selling kabuki souvenirs, especially woodblock prints, which were collected like movie posters. This exhibition will feature more about forty 19th and 20th century portraits of actors from the Gallery’s extensive collection including works by ukiyo-e masters like Sharaku, Toyokuni, Kunisada, Kuniyoshi, Kunichika, as well as modern artists like Natori Shunsen and Ota Masamitsu.