27 June 2018

Woodblock Wednesday - sosaku hanga

In the absence of opportunity to make new woodblocks or print those already on hand (ceramics is absorbing all my studio time), research continues - via instagram and hashtags #mokuhanga, #japaneseprints and similar. Such a lot of inspiration there, and sometimes there is pithy information.

Thus, via an image by Tokuriki Tomikichiru (1902-2000), I came across the Sosaku Hanga movement. (A "short overview" is available here; the site also goes through 20th-century artistic developments in Japan decade by decade.)

Tokoriku turned from painting to woodblock prints in 1929 and became a leader of the Kyoto sosaku hanga (creative prints) movement, which emphasized the artist's participation in the entire process of printmaking and the exploration of more modern styles and trends. However, he made his living from designing woodcuts of landscapes and city views in the traditional manner. Today he is mostly known for these shin hanga style prints, like this one -

From Wikipedia: "Hanga [printmaking] was considered as a craft that was inferior to paintings and sculpturesUkiyo-e woodblock prints had always been considered as mere reproductions for mass commercial consumption, as opposed to the European view of ukiyo-e as art, during the climax of Japonisme. It was impossible for sōsaku-hanga artists to make a living by just doing creative prints. Many of the later renowned sōsaku-hanga artists, such as Kōshirō Onchi (also known as the father of the creative print movement), were book illustrators and wood carvers."
"By 1950, abstraction became the mode of the creative print movement in Japan. Japanese prints were perceived as genuine blending of East and West. Artists such as Kōshirō Onchi, who had shown passion for abstract expression since his early years, turned completely to abstract art after the war (abstract art had been banned by the military government during wartime)."
Fiction no. 1
Koshiro Onchi, Fiction (1953) (via)
Other artists of the sosaku hanga movement are listed in the Wikipedia article. The list doesn't include Tokuriki Tomikichiru... but this list does, with the explanation "made by far more shin hanga prints. But his heart was with sosaku hanga".

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