Utagawa Hiroshige
Courtesy of Embassy of Japan

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Exploring Hiroshige and His Influence on Social Media at Japanese Information and Culture Center

When you think of a social media influencer, your first thought is probably not of a centuries-old artist specializing in ukiyo-e, or the Japanese art of woodblock printing and painting. Exploring Hiroshige and His Influence on Social Media at the Japanese Information and Culture Center suggests that Utagawa Hiroshige, one of the last masters of this technique, might have rubbed off on today’s Instagrammers. Dozens of his stunning works of landscapes and city scenes are featured here, and all reward close inspection. Shops and houses throw their doors open to reveal the people sleeping or eating within, farmers and animals work in fields, and oceans or sunsets glimmer in the background. Mount Fuji frequently looms in the frame, either imposingly breaking out of the picture’s frame or off in the distance, and the plethora of delicate, twisty, or flowering trees makes clear why this exhibit is part of the National Cherry Blossom Festival. Nearby placards highlight aesthetic principles that Hiroshige employed, like diagonal lines that cut across the frame or linear perspective, as well as social media photography that uses these same techniques. These signs act as an instructional guide to photography, and are also an insightful way to understand and appreciate the composition of artworks in general. The photos were gathered from an open call for submissions. The democracy of submissions, coupled with the educational aspect of the exhibit, drives home the idea that anyone can become a better photographer and learn to envision things differently. Should you venture to check out the blossoms this season, you might just spruce up your #cherryblossoms shots and capture a bit of Hiroshige’s energy. Through May 13 at Japanese Information and Culture Center, 1150 18th St. NW, Suite 100. us.emb-japan.go.jp. Free.