Toshusai Sharaku’s active career lasted a mere 10 months sometime in the years of 1794-95. Despite this brevity, his work has been acclaimed for its minimal and abbreviated but stylistic appearance. The mystery behind Sharaku’s true identity — which is still unknown — also continues to fascinate the art world today.

He produced more than 140 pieces in those few months, a number that set the bar for Japanese woodblock art. This prolific output, however, has also led some to believe that Sharaku may have been group of artists working under the same name, particularly as many of his works show a number of stylistic changes.

The exhibition explores the sources of Sharaku’s creativity as well as what distinguishes his work from others of the period.

Tokyo National Museum, (03) 5405-8686, 3-9 Ueno Park, Taito-ku, Tokyo; 10-min walk from Ueno Station or Uguisudani Station, JR lines. ¥1,500. 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. (Sat., Sun. and holidays till 6 p.m.) Closed May 16 and May 23. www.tnm.jp.

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