Sosaku hanga means “creative prints.” (Of course we at the Art Caravan think that all prints are creative prints.)
In the long history of Japanese printmaking, a creative ‘team’ worked together to make prints. Up until the early 20th century, theartist designed the image, the carver prepared the wooden blocks for printing, the printer inked the blocks and produced the prints, and the publisher was the distributor.
Sosaku hanga prints are the artworks created individually, by Japanese artist. We don’t think of this as revolutionary, do we? But for the Japanese, it was an enormous shift.
Many influences led to the sosaku hanga art movement. As Japan opened up to the outside world in the Meiji Period (1868-1912), the artists were exposed to Western ideas. The ideas of ‘self’ and individualism became possibilities. They saw that successful artists could, and did, produce their artwork from start to finish.
The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria recently had a show Sosaku Hanga: Japan’s Creative PrintMovement. Who knew that they have one of the largest collections of sosaku hanga print collections in the world? It was a very good show, with a wide variety of work.
Recognize this artist?
Yes! It’s Toko Shinoda, the Japanese artist I wrote about in the previous blog entry. This is a lithograph she made in 1983, when she was seventy years old. It’s called Arrived Wind.
I’ve been meaning to write about Azuma Gallery for a long while. It’s a great commercial gallery in the Pioneer Square area of downtown Seattle, specializing in Japanese art. Besides a variety of prints (woodblocks,lithographs, stencils, mixed media) they show screens, paintings, baskets and ceramics.
What makes it so good?
The artwork is of a very high quality. The gallery represents artists from Japan, as well as American artists working in Japan. Work by Toko Shinoda immediately caught my eye. Her lithographs are very graphic: bold and dramatic.
The gallery has existed for 38 years. The people working there are very knowledgable about the art, and the artists. I learned that Toko Shinoda has worked into her advanced age….and we do mean advanced…..she was born in 1913!
The pricing is more than fair….at least to the buyer. I was surprised at the prices: they are very reasonable, bordering on the inexpensive for original art. (No excuse not to have good artwork hanging in your home.)
If you have the opportunity, visit Azuma Gallery soon. This Thursday, May 5, they have an opening for their Recent Acquisitions Show. If you can’t make it to Seattle in the next little while, make sure to browse their website.