Monday, November 22, 2010


As I blogged earlier this month, San Francisco is playing host to a rare exhibit of the works of famed erotic artist, Toshio Saeki! My girlfriend and I were running errands on Saturday nearby 111 Minna Gallery, and decided to stop by and check it out!

The show took advantage of the large space (where previous magazine release parties, Last Gasp shows, etc have been hosted), and featured a mixture of Saeki's original inked B&W drawings, his color guides for the printmaker he works with, and a number of lush chinto prints in various sizes. For folks in the area, you have until November 27 to see the exhibit, and I strongly encourage any fans of the perverted and elegant to stop by!

Without further ado, here are my photos and notes from the exhibit!

Mood lighting... we were the only folks during a rainstorm and got to check the entire exhibit out in peace.

Color prints lined both rooms of the exhibit, in Saeki's signature style. These pieces are created in collaboration by Saeki in collaboration with a print-maker via his "semi-traditional" offsent print technique. These were full color prints in his most distinct style, and each is one of an edition of 75.

As much as I like Saeki's normal work, which reproduces really well on glossy paper and as big posters, I was most excited about these more subtle and elegant prints on washi with a slight grain and imperfections. Though these are each chinto offset prints, each one is only printed in editions of one (!) making each one of them "unique".

An original color guide by Saeki, used by the printer per his instructions in the collaborative process of creating the actual print.

Ghost grandma does not approve.

Lush colors and balance, achieved via CMYK-esque color separations dictated by Saeki.

The other room of the exhibit.

Also on display were a few original ink drawings (on the right), selling for around $5K each!

We stared at these for a long while-- some of my favorites of the entire show! The middle one was so damn impressive (but sold already!), as well as the shakier lines of the upper-left print.

Every one of these full-color prints were sold when we visited, each one of an edition of 75.

Micah, the nice guy curating the gallery was cool enough to bring up additional prints that hadn't been displayed in the show. These were additional pieces (all 1 of an edition of 1) that they hadn't had room on the wall for but were available for sale. I decided I really wanted to get the following piece, and though my credit card is sad I will deal with it later after my next paycheck...

It didn't have a title, so the dude made one up for the invoice; "Dwarf on the road with 4-wheeled severed head". I think Saeki would approve.


Like I mentioned, local folks have just a few more days to check out this awesome show! Another high-five to 111 Minna Gallery and Last Gasp for putting this exciting exhibit together! Check out their site above for a full gallery of the prints/originals that were on the walls.


Andrew said...

awesome! wish i could see it in person.

ps. love the idea of a "same hat" shirt. would definitely buy it! also having anything maruo related on it would be totaly cool, also some umezu too!

chrismandesign said...

this is absolutely beautiful (& quite pervert as well)... i wish i could get at least one of this precious & disturbing illustrations... myb one day, i hope so =)

Mr. Freibert said...

SO JEALOUS! thanks for sharing the pics, beautiful.

Anonymous said...

Wow so cool I love some you posted, in a more spare style. And the one you bought is really awkward.

jimpac said...

Amazing post, Ryan! This exhibition actually looks even better than I expected it to be. Even though I'm really sad I won't ever have a chance to see these artworks in person, I'm stoked that you put up this great coverage so that I at least get to see some of what I'm missing!

JE said...

Your picture of Saeki's color guide seems insanely huge. And I thought the book was big enough already.

Ryan S said...

@Andrew: Happy to snap pics for everyone now able to come in person! Thanks for the feedback about a Same Hat tshirt! I'm really into the idea, and gotta check into what I can legally use/get permission for, vs. designing a unique logo, etc.

@chrismandesign: I was really impressed by the variety of types of work by Saeki... was thinking it might just be his super-saturated stuff so I was happily surprised.

@Mr. Freibert: Glad you enjoyed them!

@Anonymous: Haha, awkward in a good or bad way? I like the sparse ones on the slightly-textured washi most too.

@jimpac: I had the same reaction-- was more impressed in person by the variety and size of the exhibition than I thought I'd be. I wish they had cheaper goods on sale (post card set?) so I could send them out to you guys... Will continue to do my best to cover the rare event (and am always eager to post other folks pics when/if you guys happen to catch something cool in your neck of the world).

@anonymous: :B

@JE: I think it looks bigger than it is, but yeah--- it was sorta huge! Definitely a bit bigger than 11x17 (A3) paper size...

Ryan S said...

@trevor: seemed like standard issue stickers to me, but they did make it painfully clear which of the pieces i was interested had already been scooped up.

I would think the artist would dig visual indicators that they've sold nearly every print in a show to the tune of many thousands of dollars :)

Katie AkaTako said...

Wow. Those are incredible! I don't think I've ever seen so many Toshio Saeki pieces in one place (even just through photos). Thanks for taking all those pics and sharing!

J.R.D.S. said...

The Peony Lantern illustration has amazing associations for me, the skeleton body and pose of it is how I imagined them and wished to illustrate but not had the skills to do justice – but even then I never imagined it taking this course of action. I couldn't help but applaud. I'm supposing the poster doesn't know or didn't recognise the story due to them mistaking the maid for grandmamma? It's in, or the prose version I know it from is, Lafcadio Hearn's In Ghostly Japan; read it. Makes me wonder about the potential vastness of how much other Saeki I'm appreciating but not to this extent by not knowing the literary basis that it's finding new riches in.

Ryan S said...

@JRDS: Thanks for the comment! I'm actually familiar with Hearn's work and the story this was based of off... but GHOST GRANDMA sounds funnier to me :B

Good point though, the Saeki pieces are doing an interesting interplay with earlier kaidan tales; I'm guessing that piece is conjuring up Sanyutei Encho and Tsukioka Yoshitoshi more than Hearn but it's all from the same seeds.

Thanks for reading! Would love to hear more allusions to 17th, 18th, 19th century tales in Saeki's work

Lamu said...

Hello! Hope you can help, as I am doing an essay. I am trying to figure out the name, technic & year (and if it is in some museum or something, or just private) of the painting The Peony Lantern (or Botan Dôrô). Seems that there are a couple of kanjis in the bottom of the painting? Can't read the first one...
I can't find any gallery on Saeki's official webpage :(
Waiting for your response. Thank you very much :)