Japan Art and Hirakawa Seizo: Sōsaku Hanga

Japan Art and Hirakawa Seizo: Sōsaku Hanga

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The Japanese artist Hirakawa Seizo (1897-1964) was born during the Meiji Period (1868-1912). However, his artistic development concerns Japanese history’s Taisho Period and early Showa Period.

He created sosaku hanga (creative prints). This print movement naturally is an offshoot of ukiyo-e that was potent during the Edo Period – and remained important despite being challenged by new artistic ideas, photography, and modernization during the Meiji Period.

The Princeton University Library says, “At the beginning of the 20th century, shortly after the Japanese woodblock print began to influence Western painting and decoration, modern European art and new ideas about the making of art arrived in Japan to became an inspiration for many artists there. Filtering into the country as images in newspapers, magazines and by means of artists traveling abroad, works of Art Nouveau, Impressionism and German Abstract Expressionism were to have an especially profound impact on the roughly 300-year long printmaking tradition in Japan.”

Accordingly, shin hanga (new prints) and sosaku hanga (creative prints) brought new vitality to the print-making world of Japan.

The print above, by Hirakawa Seizo, was designed by Nagase Yoshiro. It highlights the beauty of his print-making skills.

It is known that he carved for several acclaimed artists – including Kawase Hasui.

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