Meet the Dealer, Fraser Murray, Japan Print Gallery

1. Describe your art business?

We sell Japanese woodblock prints, focusing on those made during the Edo and Meiji period, along with a few 20th century artists. We try to have a range of designs, from the iconic designs from major series to more accessible prints, but always with an eye to early impressions in fine condition. 

2. How much do you enjoy art fairs?

Art fairs are a great way to meet new people and hopefully to share ukiyo-e with them. Since we largely do business by appointment or online the chance to talk to people face to face is invaluable.

3. Is this what you wanted to be when you grew up?

By no means. I was drawn into it accidentally, first by looking at prints and reading about them, and then by having the opportunity to learn how to deal in ukiyo-e from someone with over 40 years experience.

4. Your favourite artwork is?

Kajikazawa in Kai Province, by Hokusai. 

Hokusai is the big name in ukiyo-e, and Japanese art in general now, but his Great Wave is so iconic it sometimes overshadows the other designs in this fantastic series. When I was just starting to learn more about Japanese prints this was the first design that really struck me due to its dramatic composition. 

5.  If you have to choose – Yoshitoshi or Hiroshige and why?

In some ways this is an impossible question, the artists are so different. Not only in their style but down to the subjects they portray: Hiroshige is known for his landscapes while Yoshitoshi is particularly known for dynamic warrior prints. I think Yoshitoshi is great, and enjoy his prints immensely for their energetic style and frequent use of Japanese mythology and history as subjects, but perhaps I might choose Hiroshige for his ability to capture a sense of wanderlust and exploration that reflects the new possibilities of travel in the time his landscapes were produced.