Japan art and Takahashi Shōtei (1871-1945)
Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
Takahashi Shōtei (Hiroaki) was a famous Japanese woodblock artist in the movement of Shin Hanga (New Prints). Indeed, he was the first individual to work under the esteemed publisher Watanabe Shozaburo.
Shōtei was born in the early Meiji Period and died during the last year of the war in 1945. Hence, one can only imagine the sorrow and fear of his final years – similar to all people who resided in this period of history.
Art sustained his life despite the convulsions of history. Thus his delightful art focuses on the beauty of life – and the normality of this world. Therefore, from landscapes to people working – Shōtei produced amazing art.
The Takahashi Shōtei website says “In 1907, he was recruited as the first artist for Watanabe Shozaburo. He produced many original designs in the style of the Edo-era landscapes. In 1921, he started using the gō”Hiroaki”, however, many of his new prints continued to display the “Shōtei” seal through the 1930s. Up until the great Kanto earthquake, in September 1923, he produced as many as 500 print designs for Watanabe. Unfortunately, Watanabe’s entire publishing operation was destroyed in the fires which followed in the aftermath of the earthquake. After the disaster, he produced 250 more prints for Watanabe, some of which were reproductions of the older images lost in the fires.”
In the above art piece, a dedicated worker prevails – despite the harsh weather conditions. The snow is falling, and the other person is struggling to keep dry. Therefore, despite the simplicity of this art scene, it conveys dedication and the tenacity of ordinary workers.
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