Picture of a Street in Gion, Kyoto, 1976
Gift of Susan and James Carter
In Kyoto’s Gion neighborhood, a famous geisha district, the traditions of late-Edo period nightlife live on. Kawada uses two-point perspective to accentuate the length of the Gion’s ancient winding streets lined with countless wooden merchant homes in the traditional machiya style. Kawada’s striking red sky and the shuttered storefronts portray a scene bathed in the first warm rays of dawn or the fading light of dusk. Kawada, who graduated from the prestigious Ochanomizu Bunka Gakuin Art Institute in Tokyo, is notable for using stencils. A master stencil, colored black, provides structure while additional stencils add colors (in this case, natural pigments). As in Kawada’s other works, a light “dusting” of ink adds texture to the road, and multiple shades of black ink create shadows on black architectural features. The prominent power lines compete with a Buddhist pagoda, spoiling the impression of a neighborhood completely untouched by the passage of time.