Direct Gyotaku

Ever since prehistoric times, people have left artwork behind them wherever they have gone. This suggests that art is primordial for human beings.

Most of the systems in place in Europe to support innovation are still based on a narrow, technology-oriented definition of the term. The increasing role of innovation in cultural and creative matters is not yet sufficiently acknowledged.

What is Gyotaku?

Gyotaku is an ancient Japanese technique for making fish prints using actual fishes as a printing block (with ink and paper).

It is thought to have been practised in the 17th century by Samurai warriors, who were required to be skilled at fishing and fine arts as well as martial arts. The technique was also used by Japanese fishermen in the early 19th century to record sizes and species caught and as advertisements at markets and fish stalls.

The word gyotaku is derived from two characters in the Japanese Kanji writing system: gyo and taku. Gyo translates literally as “fish” (the character is based on a pictogram of a fish with its fins and tail merged into the figure of a man leaning over to capture it), while taku means “rubbing” or “imprint”.

Why Gyotaku?

The gyotaku technique produces exclusive, strongly expressive, highly detailed images that can be used to illustrate technical and educational works, on the covers of scientific journals and in private publications.


The Gyotaku Zuzena exhibition is divided into two distinct areas that nevertheless share a common feature. On the one hand José María Ferarios uses 30 direct gyotaku prints to show work done on commercial fishing vessels, in fisheries research and in his studio in the past year.

On the other hand José Abel Sánchez, the painter whose atmospheres and depictions of fire surprised audiences at his Ría de Fuego [“River of Fire”] exhibition, where he created unique effects and textures to represent the Bilbao river estuary, has delved into the marine environment with all his creative force and produced a large-format collage in which the fish not included in his previous work are re-used, combined and animated to suggest a new structure for fishery ecosystems in which they all converge …

Works are selected and placed in order according to artistic and logical criteria to help them to be seen as a thread of images and give a new view and a new meaning to marine diversity in the Bay of Biscay.


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