gyotaku

Pronounced ghe-yo-tah-koo. "Gyo" meaning fish and "taku" meaning rubbing or impression. Gyotaku is a time honored tradition of recording a fisherman's catch. Beginning in the early 1800's Japanese fisherman would bring inks and fabrics with them on their fishing vessels. They would ink up the fish and rub the impression onto silk before selling the fish to market. Before the time of cameras this was the only way to prove the size of their catch. Many people today prefer this form of artwork over taxidermy.

the process

The entire fish is rubbed dry, stabilized and carefully prepared for paint.  After the application of the paint, a piece of rice paper or fabric is gently laid in place on top of the fish.  A gentle rubbing motion is applied to force the paper or fabric into contact with the fish’s scales paying particular attention to the fins and tail as well as around the face and mouth.  The paper is gently peeled off revealing an exquisitely realistic image of the fish.  The eye is hand painted and the traditional Asian Red Seal signature stamp is applied to the finished piece. This stamp is my last name, Donato, translated into Japanese.

© 2017 Kristen Donato