Suzuki Harunobu's A Lady With Pipe (A Couple on The Red Mattress), 1760.

HONG KONG - Inspired by the friendship between Nicolas Chow (Deputy Chairman, Asia) and the renowned Japanese antique dealer and print collector Mr. Mitsuru Uragami, “Beyond the Paper Screen” finally opened at Sotheby’s Hong Kong Gallery on 18th July.

This exhibition of sexually explicit erotic prints from the Edo period (1603 - 1868) is unprecedented in Asia, and could not be shown even today in Japan itself in such a public and comprehensive manner. Such “Spring Pictures” (Shunga in Japanese) are still regarded by many in Japan as taboo. Internationally, Japanese Shunga is regarded as erotic art of the highest order. Indeed, part of Mr. Uragami’s collection will also feature in a three month long exhibition in October 2013 at the British Museum entitled “Shunga : Sex and Pleasure in Japanese Art, 1600 - 1900.”

Katsushika Hokusai's Kinoe no Komatsu (A Lady with an Octopus), 1814.

At the opening of our exhibition, we presented a live gallery conversation between the collector Mr. Uragami and myself, which was enthusiastically received and thoroughly enjoyed by an international audience. Mr. Uragami gave a very informative and humorous account of the history of Shunga and what made him collect erotic prints, as well as the pleasure and fun that he derived from his collecting journey. Using examples from the exhibit, Mr. Uragami also explained the very subtle and often hidden symbolism in Shunga which fascinated the audience.

Sotheby's Kevin Ching, Nicolas Chow, Angelika Li and Director of the University Museum and Art Gallery at the University of Hong Kong Dr. Florian Knothe.

The show has since become one of the most (if not the most!) attended exhibitions at our gallery here in Hong Kong, and has received extensive and exciting coverage in the local press.

Talk Mitsuru Uragami, Collector & Kevin Ching, CEO Sotheby’s Asia.