Paul Binnie

Scottish, b. 1967


with gold mica ground and karazuri (blind-printing) on the white collar; the title at upper right, Ebizori, signed in kanji at lower left, Bin-ni, with artist's circular seal Binnie, and date seal Heisei kyu nen (Heisei 9 [1997]), numbered, titled and signed in penciled English on the bottom margin, 46/50, Backbend, Paul Binnie, with oval kanji seal Bin-ni, currently in new acid-free mat (floated in corners) and framed with UV protective plexiglass

double-oban tate-e 26 1/8 by 19 in., 66.2 by 48.4 cm

During Binnie's period of residency in Tokyo, the kabuki actor Bando Tamasaburo V (b. 1950) was a favorite subject of the artist who actually met him in person a couple of times. This large format woodblock print depicts one of Tamasaburo's most spectacular dance sequences in the role of Sakura-hime (the cherry princess, who is also the ghost of the Heian poetess Ono no Komachi). During the scene, Sakura Hime is being threatened by the evil Otomo no Kuronushi (a rival poet) who wields a huge axe intending to chop down the cherry tree. The two engage in a pas de deux which culminates in a pose in which Sakura Hime bends dramatically backwards in a position known as ebizori (lit. 'prawn-bent') while Kuronushi holds the axe above her.

Binnie found the scene to be so mesmerizing he produced this ambitious work capturing how Tamasaburo appears to defy the limits of human flexibility as the long hair of the wig flows onto the stage floor. Lavishly printed with gold mica on the background and subtle embossing in the area of her white collar, this composition may be the only example of a portrait of a kabuki actor upside down in a print by any artist.

Paul Binnie: A Dialogue with the Past - The First 100 Japanese Prints, 2007, p. 47, no. 52

(inv. no. C-3461)

price: $2,700


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(212) 585-0474 or email
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site last updated
June 28, 2022

Scholten Japanese Art
145 West 58th Street, suite 6D
New York, New York 10019
ph: (212) 585-0474
fx: (212) 585-0475