20 March 2006

Viewing Sosaku Hanga Prints

Today I went back to the Cunningham Print Center at The Smith College Museum of Art to see more prints, this time with a focus on sosaku (creative) hanga. I looked at 12 prints by 4 artists. Six of the prints were by Kiyoshi Saito, whose work I've always liked when I've seen it in books or online. Seeing his work in person was very exciting. I was surprised and actually really pleased to see that he didn't seem to fuss too much about perfect registration. He left a lot of overlap between colors so that there was often quite a large area of overprint and some of the pigments he used for overprinting were so opaque that I suspected they were gouache or even some kind of poster paint. The range of textures he achieved is stunning.

Three more prints were by american-born artist Ansei Uchima. Here are two of them:

I don't know a lot about Uchima, only that he taught for many years at Sarah Lawrence College and that in the 1950s he translated for Oliver Statler as Statler conducted interviews in preparation for a book about Japanese printmakers.

Two works were by Toshi Yoshida, who did beautiful traditional prints as well as some very interesting abstracts. The two prints I saw were abstract, with overprinted wavy lines that created some very psychedelic moire patterns and amazing bokashis that I couldn't deconstruct.

The final print was one by Toshi Yoshida's daughter-in-law Chizuko Yoshida. Four generations of the Yoshida family have been very influential printmakers. Chizuko's print at the top of this post, called "Windows," was both delicate and strong, very beautiful up close.

All of the prints were much larger than I had expected, between 20 and 30 inches in their largest dimension. It was an exciting visit for me. I almost cried when I first walked in.

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