Founded on the premise that all of humanity is alike, the British Museum seeks to evidence this in its exhibition programme, comparing and contrasting customs and ways of life from myriad global cultures, highlighting their shared seed. What varies is the surface representation. And I daresay the average visitor to this current exhibition of Japanese paintings, depicting in explicit glory the joys of manifold forms of sexual pleasure and encounter will, at least initially, reel in shock. From the 17th – 19th centuries in Japan, however, this was a commonplace, respected cultural commodity, with exquisitely painted handscrolls treasured and passed down in families, and offered to young newlyweds to aid them in their communion.
British Museum, London, until 5 January 2014