Japan Art and Woodpeckers: Eclectic to Traditional

Japan Art and Woodpeckers: Eclectic to Traditional

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The unique artist Kawano Kaoru (1916-1965) was born in the Taisho Period (1912-1926). He hails from the boundless open spaces of Northern Japan. 

Accordingly, his imprisonment during the war must have taken a heavy toll. Hence, it is easy to envisage the innocence of girls fused with the freedom of birds pointing to aspects of his life – without the need for words.

All four art pieces focus on woodpeckers. The first and third art pieces highlight the unique artistic traits of Kawano Kaoru.

The art above is by Yoshimoto Gesso (1881-1936). He produced delightful kacho-ga (birds and flowers) and landscapes.

Kawano Kaoru – art above – belongs to the sosaku hanga (creative prints) movement that entailed individualism to a level unimagined in the old days of ukiyo-e during the Edo Period.

In the first and third art pieces by Kawano Kaoru, woodpeckers and girls seem entwined through the prism of his art. Hence, Kawano’s unique style is a treasure beyond words.

The final art piece above is by Hiratsuka Unichi (Un’ichi). He was born in 1895 and died in 1997. Hiratsuka Un’ichi – similar to Kawano Kaoru – is connected firmly with the sōsaku hanga art movement. Indeed, Hiratsuka is endearingly called the “grand old man” of sōsaku hanga.

Hiratsuka Un’ichi famously said, “Printing in black on white is often considered the first step of the technique, but it is (actually) the final point…”

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