Welcome to our new Zusetsu ART store. Today we would love to introduce you to our truly beautiful contemporary and shin-hanga woodblock prints from Japan.
This collection of prints have been re-printed from the original woodblocks by a specialist Kyoto company.
They are exquisite in their detail, and draughtsmanship. Let’s look at them a bit closer!
What is shin-hanga?
Shin-hanga is a Japanese woodblock style that originated in the early 20th century, owing to Western influences at the time.
These woodblock prints are created in the traditional ukiyo-e collaborative way, sharing the skills of the artist, the carver of the woodblocks, the printer, and the publisher.
Shin-hanga artists introduced Western touches such as the effects of light and shadow, but their subjects were traditional Japanese landscapes (fukeiga), famous places in Japan (meishō), beautiful women (bijinga), popular kabuki actors (yakusha-e), and scenes with birds and flowers (kachō-e).
Our contemporary woodblock prints by Teruhide Kato (1936-2015) innovate and refresh the landscape traditions of the early-twentieth century shin-hanga artists.
Who are our artists?
Our artists are among the most highly regarded. Incredibly, our woodblock prints are skilfully created using the original woodblocks. The prints are made using beautiful inks on interesting, textured Japanese paper.
Contemporary woodblock printer Teruhide Kato undeniably stands out with his deep love of Kyoto architecture – pavilions and streets – always softened with the Kyotoite’s love and respect for natural beauty.
We have his two magnificent prints of the dazzling Kinkakuji covered in gold leaf, and softly set amongst soft white flakes of snow, and brilliant autumn maple leaves.
We have the geometric lines of vermilion Gion fencing softened with the pink and white of sakura blossoms. The detail of the background behind the cascading blossoms is astonishing - highlighted as it is with fine gold ink hatching.
We have one of the most memorable images of Kyoto: the climbing tunnelled pathway among the vermilion torii of Fushimi Inari Shrine.
Shin-hanga artist Asano Takeji provides us with gentle scenes of a popular temple in central Kyoto as rain falls, and of a rural temple in the pretty village of Ohara, located in Kyoto’s northern mountains.
Shin-hanga artist Kasamatsu Shiro gives us the atmospheric depiction of snowy rooftops in a Japanese fishing village, and a woman punting among the reeds on a lake in Itako.
The sombre, inky greys of the fishing village rooftops contrast with the warm yellow light issuing from the houses.
The boat on the lake in Itako slides past reeds and generous plant-life creating blue-grey ripples on the water.
The Woodblock Print Process
Japanese woodblock prints are made from cherry hard-wood blocks. Cherry wood has a straight grain which is well-suited to intricate carving, and it can also withstand repeated printing (a single woodblock carving can create hundreds of prints).
Traditionally, each ukiyo-e print required the creative skill of four experts: the image designer, the carver, the printer, and the publisher. The designer was dependent on the skills of the carver and printer in order to complete their design in the way that they had envisaged.
The artist designed the shita-e: the sketched line drawing which is the beginning of the printing process.
The hiroshi (carver) would then paste the drawing to the cherry wood block and carve the spare wood away, leaving only the raised lines that were to be printed. Each colour of the print required a separately carved woodblock (iro-ita) - and some prints require up to twenty colours!
The printer (surishi) uses a brush to apply the ink colour to the woodblock. Dampened paper is then carefully placed on top of the inked woodblock.
A padded tool called a baren is then used to put circles of even pressure across the back of the paper in order to transfer the inked print onto it. The backs of our shin-hanga prints show hints of the skilled work of the baren, with the ink faintly showing.
Our new woodblock prints come from a company in Kyoto who have been printing from the original blocks since the 19th century. The skill required to accurately print these wonderful works of art is mesmerising – inks are skilfully matched to original shades, and the colours are fresh and new.
We are certain that you will love the skill that is incorporated into the making of these fine Japanese woodblock prints.
Now you can own one of these
beautiful art pieces.
Just click on the link to find your way to our online store Zusetsu ART.
And look out for more carefully selected Japanese prints in the coming weeks!
Thank you for reading,
Cathy and Yukki xx