Introduction to Our Gallery Excerpted from the article in the Culture Columns of the
Newspaper, Nikkei, dated Oct.26.1995

by@Naoteru Yoshitome
The term Sosaku-hanga is used for the art works drawn,
carved and printed by the artist. This genre covers the period
extending from the late Meiji to some years after World War
II, which is approximately the first half of the 20th century.
While the artists were active, their printed works were not
accepted as serious expression of art and were often mockingly
called 'half art', which resulted in scanty sales opportunities.
The unfavorable working conditions of the artists are almost
unimaginable today, because their works are easily classified
now under the genre of Sosaku-hanga and are appreciated all
over the world.@Unfortunate as the artists were, this environment helped them to keep intact their artis-
tic temperament.@Without any urge to be conscious of the eyes of will-be-purchasers, they were entirely
free to express themselves, dictated only by the artistic consciousness that arose from the depths of their
souls.@This explains why their apparently plain and naive expressions speak most directly to our heart.
It was about 20 years ago that I first came into contact with
Sosaku-hanga. With some odd moments to spare, I dropped in at
an art gallery at Ginza, Tokyo, when one picture caught me by
surprise.@Though it only depicted a bay scene in spring in plain
and quiet colors, it seemed to overwhelm all the other pictures,
painted in oil, on the walls of the gallery.
I was stunned and stood speechless, learning only some moments later that it was a work of Sosaku-hanga
by Azechi Umetaro, titled 'Kurinoura Inlet at Yawatahama Beach' published in 1936.@This unexpected blow
was so shockingly fresh to me, because until this very moment I had always classified myself as a stranger
to the beauty of fine arts.
From that moment on, I kept on purchasing any prints that
seemed congenial to me.@It somehow opened up for me a re-
newed life in which I paid no other attention than to pursuing
the works of and exploring the world of Sosaku-hanga.
I gave up my post in the publishing company I had worked in
for many years, and it was 8 years ago that I opened a gallery
specializing in Sosaku-hanga.@With my hobby turned into work, I had to think of some area of activity
where I could simply enjoy myself without regard to business.@My conclusion turned out to be that of
bringing to light forgotten artists of Sosaku-hanga. A privilege allowed to someone who can bring them
to light may be the joy of discovering new variations of beauty and evaluating them afresh.
I should perhaps give special thanks to my own deviation
from the beaten track of life, which brought me the honor
of contributing little bits to the history of the print art and
also appreciation by the families of the artists.@Let me
conclude this article by requesting you to inform me about
forgotten artists of Sosaku-hanga.
Naoteru Yoshitome
(an excerpt translated from the article in the Nikkei)
P.S.
We would be very grateful if any visitor to this site could give us information about the artists listed
below, whereabouts of their families, art works or documents.
Sakaguchi Usasi@Shimizu Koichi@Murayama Kanko@Ishihara Juichi@Nozaki Shinemon@Narita Gyokusen
Arai Toru (or Sueki Toru)@Matsuo Junichiro
KIKAI@Sosaku-hanga
302 Alpha Akasaka, 6-11-7 Akasaka
Minato-ku, Tokyo@107-0052
TEL & FAX 03-3586-1956
kikai@tbj.t-com.ne.jp

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