The Art Behind the Fish

The next time you pop into the Gulfport Galleria of Fine Art in the historic Carnegie Library building, take a moment to enjoy the unusual artwork of Chris Estes.  At first glance, you may question what makes his work so unusual.  The answer is in his process.

Chris uses a Japanese art form that dates back to the mid-1800s, Gyotaku, or the art of fish printing.

Before it was recognized as an art form, Gyotaku was a method of recording the size of the catch to settle fishing competitions.  The process starts of course with a successful day of fishing.  The fish is washed and then the cavities stuffed with cloth or tissue to help it keep its shape.  Next, the body is supported in the desired shape and thoroughly dried.  Now comes the fun part.  The fish is painted with the colors and medium of choice, inks, acrylics or oils, and the receiving fabric carefully pressed against the fish to transfer the image.  Finishing touches are hand-painted by the artist.

So, when you stand in front of one of Chris’ paintings, enjoy knowing that a historic process is being practiced today.

Gulfport Arts Center