Reynolds and Rose Re-Interpreting Traditional Japanese Ukiyo-e Shunga
31 juli 2020 
13 min. read

Reynolds and Rose Re-Interpreting Traditional Japanese Ukiyo-e Shunga

The (regular) artist duo Reynolds and Rose created a series of paintings in which they give their own unique take on ancient shunga. The body of work is entitled ‘Japornism: Erotic Contemporientalism‘ and was exhibited at the Eaton Hill Gallery in 2018.


Both artists share a musical and artistic background, and in the last decade they have joined forces on several projects such as film scores, art expo’s, artwork for album covers and video animation. Nick Reynolds plays the harmonica in the band Alabama 3 (known for the Sopranos Theme tune), and is also a graphic artist and UK’s most prominent creator of Death Masks (see video below!).

The Great Train Robbery

A striking biographical detail is that Nick Reynolds is the son of Bruce Reynolds who was one of the architects of the great train robbery* in 1963. Edward Rose is a Jazz/ Reggae saxophonist, visual artist known for his community art murals, composer, and creator of animated videos. Collectively their work has been exhibited in the Neue gallery, New York, the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, and V&A, London.

Saucy Pop Art

The exhibition Japornism was their re-interpretation on the classical Japanese woodblock prints (ukiyo-e) and the shunga genre in particular. When these art forms were introduced around 1870 under the collective noun Japonism, it became a huge trend (in particular the landscapes of Hokusai and Hiroshige) and was embraced by the early Impressionists like Degas, Manet, and Monet, as well as Post-Impressionists like Van Gogh and Art Nouveau artists like Toulouse-Lautrec and Beardsley. Reynolds and Rose give their own saucy Pop Art take on it.


Below you can find Reynolds and Roses’ shunga work and also the sources of the Japanese and Western art that inspired the specific work…

Reynold and Rose: a Taste of Honey

Fig.1. ‘Taste of honey‘ (2017)

Fig.1a. ‘Noble couple extracting vaginal fluids with a laddle‘ (c.1814) from the series ‘Kinoe no komatsu (Young Pine Saplings)‘ by Katsushika Hokusai

Fig.1b. ‘Winnie the Pooh with honey pot on his head

Reynolds and Rose: 'Horny Devil' (oni mask)

Fig.2. ‘Horny Devil‘ (2017)

Fig.2a. ‘Man wearing a Hannya mask is making love to his female partner near the door post‘ (Taisho era) by an unknown Japanese artist

Fig.2b. ‘Detail of a Hokusai shunga design of the male private parts‘ (c.1814) from the series ‘Kinoe no komatsu (Young Pine Saplings)‘ by Katsushika Hokusai

Fig.3. ‘Innocent Abroad‘ (2017)

Fig.3a. French edition of ‘The adventures of Tintin – The Blue Lotus‘ by Hergé

Fig.3b. ‘Young kissing couple‘ (c.1790s) by Kitagawa Utamaro

Fig.4. ‘Untitled‘ (2017)

Fig.4a. ‘Woman At Her Bath‘ (1915) by Hashiguchi Goyō (Source: Wikipedia)

Fig.5. ‘The Accidental Voyeur‘ (2017)

Fig.5a. ‘Aroused girl peeking on a couple behind a folding screen‘ (c.1770-71) from an untitled series by Isoda Koryusai (Source: Art of Japan)

Fig.6. ‘Untitled‘ (2017)

Fig.6a. ‘Nude playing with a cat‘ by Hiroaki Takahashi (Shotei) (Source:

Fig.7. ‘Octopus’s Garden‘ (2017)

Fig.7a. The Beatles ‘Yellow Submarine‘ album cover

Fig.7b. ‘Remake of ‘Hokusai’s The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife‘ (2018) by Yuuya Shimoi

Fig.8. ‘Untitled’ (2017)

Fig.8a. ‘Cat and Bowl of Goldfish‘ by Ohara Koson (1877-1945)

Fig.8b. ‘Phallus-headed fishes‘ (c.1830) by Utagawa school

reynolds and rose

Fig.9. ‘From Here to Eternity‘ (2017)

Fig.9a. ‘Octopus Dream Lin Drawing‘ (2017)

Fig.10. ‘What Betty Saw on Her Trip to Japan

Fig.10a. ‘Betty Boop‘ by Pnnd at Deviantart

Fig.10b. ‘Murder of Ohagi by Saisaburô‘ from the series ‘Twenty-eight famous murders with verse‘ (1867) by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (Source:

reynolds and rose

Fig.11. ‘The Garden of Eden‘ (2017)

yoshitsuya triptych snake

Fig.12. ‘Yorimitsu (Raiko) tries to capture Hakamadare by destroying his magic
(Kijutsu o yabutte Yorimitsu Hakamadare o karamen to su).’ (1858) by Utagawa Yoshitsuya

reynolds and rose

Fig.13. Another version of ‘The Garden of Eden‘ (2017)

Fig.14. ‘Tin with Spicy Mixed Seafood‘ by Reynolds and Rose

In the following intriguing video Nick Reynolds explains his work as aDeath Mask creator:

Click HERE for an article that features contemporary female artists who made a painting inspired by shunga….!!

You can check out the artist’s duo website by clicking HERE or HERE.(I am not sure if this is a fan site or not)..!!

*The “great train robbery” is one of the most notorious events in British crime history. In the early hours of 8 August 1963, 15 men, led by Bruce Reynolds, attacked the Royal Mail Train heading from Glasgow to London on the West Coast Main Line, and stole (without the use of firearms) a record-breaking GBP 2.6 million (converted to today about GBP 60 Million). Reynolds and his family were on the run for 5 years before he was captured. He was sentenced to 25 years, but served only 10. In 1988, the Great Train Robbery was made into a film called Buster starring Phil Collins as Buster Edwards, one of the other robbers.

What do you think about Reynolds and Rose take on shunga? Leave your reaction in the comment box below….!!

About the author
Marijn is the founder of With more than 20 years of experience within the sensual and erotic art of shunga he is an authority in the genre. During this time he served many customers with complementing their art collection.


on 31 Jul 2020

It's cool how these elements of different cultures are put together, I mean the satirical vibe of shunga is kept here very well. Hokusai's octopus is truly comparable to the yellow submarine due to its' popularity in mass culture. Very amusing stuff.



on 01 Aug 2020

Thanks a lot Darya. I completely agree!



on 31 Jul 2020

Interesting pieces! Nice find! Humor is often present in classic Shunga and this gives it a new twist. Pooh bear and the yellow submarine are priceless. Will definitely check their website and see what else I find there. As usual, thank you for sharing these.



on 01 Aug 2020

Thanks JB, I'm pleased you like them!

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