PLEASE MAKE SURE TO CHECK OUT THE ORIGINAL BLOGGER’S POSTS. They were kind enough to let me share this wonderful article with you.
How important is a likeness in a work of art? Maybe not as important as it seems; elsewhere on this site we’ve looked at how potentially disastrous it would be to use Hiroshige’s 53 Stations of the Tokaido Road as a route map; and so it was for centuries that depictions of actors or warriors could not be said to be accurate likenesses – or indeed any kind of likeness at all to the subjects they are depicting. All of this was to do with conventions; the traditions of Chinese and Japanese painting, the relative importance of actors and their roles, the shifting emphasis toward celebrity and the sophistication of the woodblock medium.
Kabuki is highly stylised, the performance relies on the tension between restraint (within very closely confined convention), and the controlled expression of extreme emotion – almost all kabuki theatre is after all melodrama. Principally because of censorship…
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