Hokusai is widely known for his ukiyo-e piece “Great Wave Off Kanagawa,” which heavily influenced French Impressionists. His bold composition and skills to vividly capture decisive moments is incomparable. He was one great crazy, relentless soul of art. Born in 1760, he never quit painting until he died, at the age of 88.
(Left: Self-portrait of Hokusai when he was 82(!) Public Domain)
Hokusai is famous for landscape paintings, such as Thirty-six Views of Mt. Fuji, which impresses us with elaborate details. But he was also good at applying drastic subtraction to let vigorous impressions emerge from a blank space. Subtraction of elements, along with effective skewing of composition, are the techniques often seen in Ukiyo-e. Ukiyo-e painters must have been playing the role of photographers: they were great at capturing crucial moments with impressive focus and emphasis, which is what cameras do today.
Hokusai subtracts elements, and captures essentials in unique angles, and with vivid texture. It is almost as if you are feeling the object. Enjoy Hokusai’s abundance by subtraction.