Japan Art and Moonlight (Meiji Born Artists)

Japan Art and Moonlight (Meiji Born Artists)

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The artist Tsuchiya Kōitsu was born in 1870 during the early Meiji Period (1868-1912) and died in 1949. In the above print, Kōitsu focuses on the fusion of nature and Shintoism.

The Koller Collection of Asian Art says, “He continued to produce lithographs until 1905, when he began to suffer from lung inflammation and work in the medium became potentially fatal. After abandoning lithography and working primarily in painting for nearly three decades, Kōitsu started designing more landscapes for woodblock prints (fukei-ga) in 1931…”

All three prints focus on moonlight. Similar to the first print, the above art by Takahashi Shōtei (Hiroaki) is stunning. Interestingly, he was born one year after Kōitsu in 1871 and died a few years before him in 1945. Therefore, both experienced the modernization of Japan and the depressing war period that resulted in so many deaths on several continents.

Shōtei was the first Shin Hanga (New Prints) printmaker to work under the acclaimed publisher Watanabe Shozaburo. However, ironically, he expressed greater individualism when providing prints for Fusui Gabo.

The final print is by Kawase Hasui (1883-1957), who created many stunning landscapes throughout his career. Hasui is famous for focusing on the declining light and the late evening period – to the potency of moonlight.

The Virginia Art Museum says, “In 1918, he began creating Shin-hanga (new prints) and designed more than 600 prints during the following 40 years.”

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