Friday, July 8, 2005

Eiichi Kotozuka print style

Eiichi.jpg Another beautiful Sosaku Hanga print, this time from Kyoto artist Eiichi Kotozuka (1906-1979). A lizard emerges from under a cucumber vine. Click on the image to see a larger version.
This oban sized print is dated 1936 and belongs to the series; "Hana Goju Dai no Uchi", Fifty Flowers, designed by a number of Kyoto artists and published by Unsodo. The blocks for this print were carved by Kotozuka, but printing may have been arranged by the publisher, who probably kept ownership of the blocks. All prints from this series carry the geometric border and were sold in a presentation folder.
With this series the artists were keen to demonstrate the new expressive Sosaku Hanga techniques. in this print the bare paper of the composition is well suited to feature the organic mottled print textures. To achieve this atenashi effect the block and washi paper are quite damp and the baren is used sparingly. The leaves and tendrils are printed from three blocks using three tones of the same blue-grey ink. The ink has been diluted with water, and printed without any starch. The darkest tones of blue were reprinted to give accent to the linework. The buttery yellow flowers and red highlights give a little extra spark to the design.
Kotozuka went on to do landscapes and more designs of plants. He is probably best known for his bamboo and cherry designs for Uchida, which continue to be reprinted. More designs can be seen if you follow this link:
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  1. Hi Tom,
    This is another wonderful sample of the Sosaku genre. I have read many of the books that were written in the 50's & 60's about this wave of printmakers and I often find myself liking the images for what looks to me like their free flowing lines and spontaineity...they sort of remind me of a quick sketch or a quickly painted we know that there is nothing quick about doing woodblocks but somehow these artists have achieved that flowing line a fresh look with their adaptation of the old least that's how I feel about the prints. There a quite a number of good books available at the local library so I will post a list to the general forum discussion list when I get a chance. Of course Tokuriki's little gem of a book is a great reading start.

  2. Hi Julio,
    My favourite book is the essential Oliver Statler's Modern Japanese Prints: an Art Reborn. Printed in 1956 it is probably the most highly regarded book on Sosaku Hanga. Statler lived in Japan and collected prints. The book devotes an entire chapter to each artist and is based on interviews with the artists working at the height of the creative print movement. There are detailed discussions of the history of Sosaku Hanga, but also printmaking techniques. All of the major figures are covered. The book itself is a thing of beauty; line drawing portraits of each artist, lovely woodgrain endpapers, an actual Koshiro Onichi woodblock as the frontspiece (in the first printing) and a lovely Saito cover. There is also an introduction by James A Michener, another keen collector. Highly recommended. Here is a link to where there are many copies available at a range of prices:

    Oliver Statler, Modern japanese Prints: an Art Reborn