Kabuki Colors - Beau Burchfield

This gallery includes representations of Japanese kabuki actors in ink and color on paper. Kabuki is the Japanese art of singing and dancing, which began in 1603. It is well-known for its unique style and beauty. After 1629, women were banned from performing kabuki, so all subjects in this gallery are males, usually dressed as women.

This piece shows two kabuki actors, one character being male and the other female (though both are, in reality, male). They both sit in seiza, the Japanese term for sitting on your heels. It should be noted that both wear the colorful robes of the samurai, and both wear swords on their left hip, to be quickly drawn. This suggests that the woman is a warrior in this play, as well as the man.
In this piece, the actor appears to wrestle with something behind his coat. He has a look of distress on his face, and his legs are splayed in a manner that would be considered unnatural. Note his remarkably colorful robe with blue and white patterns. The complex design makes a stark contrast when compared to the red and green undergarments within.
The subject of this piece seems to be in distress, as well. He is hunched over as if in response to a blow or injury. He's also grasping his arm and wears a look of pain or distress on his face. His attire is made up of mostly solid colors. However, there are some decorations adorning his waste, and the bottom of his robe appears to be plaid.
The subjects in this piece are quite richly decorated. The woman (again, actually a man) standing has an extremely elaborate robe with an Eastern dragon as the main focus of the decoration. The man, who is lounging or being dragged by the woman, initially seems to be plain brown with white chevrons. Upon closer look, though, he has elaborate yellow (or gold) and turquoise decorations around his neck and chest.
This actor has an elaborate robe of white and blue, with a contrasting brown or red shape repeated across it. The shapes have their own decorations within, which could possibly be dragons. On his shoulders, he wears aquamarine or green, adorned with lotus flowers. His robe of blues and greens provide quite the contrast with the red background.
The two actors represented in this piece have extremely elaborate robes. The person in the center of the piece wears a robe decorated with a pattern of many different flowers. Underneath, he wears a contrasting red with blue lining. The man on the bottom left not only wears a very decorated robe, but also has his face painted in red and blue.
While this piece is quite colorful, at first glance it would seem that the garb of the actor represented is monochromatic. This may be the case for the outer robe. However, the actor wears a very bright red and black undergarment, or gi, underneath. This makes the gi standout more so than if the robe was colorful, as well.
The robes of the actor in this piece are a testament to the textile skills of the Japanese. Everything he wears is a pattern, made in what seems to be perfectly repeated sequence. Again, you can see how the outer robe is very monochromatic and made up of natural, bland colors. This is accented by the bright, primary colors worn below.
It is evident from this image that red and black gis seem to be a repeated trend in these pieces. The outer robe, though, is probably the most colorful in this gallery. It has a bright blue base, with colorful flowers (or birds) repeated across. The green lining of the outer robe provides its own subtle contrast from the rest of the robe, and especially the red gi.
This piece is, of course, quite a bit different from the rest of the images. It appears to be a humanoid cat in traditional Japanese garb, leaning against a squid. The robes, however, seem to be a beautiful display of Japanese finery. The blacks of the robe provide quite the base for the bright white and blue flowers. With this running beside the reds and greens of the robe, the effect is quite a bit more colorful than it would be without the black.
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