Curated by Barry Till | Pollard Gallery
Kiyoshi Saito (1907–1997) was one of the grand masters of the twentieth-century Japanese print movement known as sosaku hanga, meaning “original creative print.
Saito successfully combined Japanese aesthetic elements with modernist, cubist, abstract, and impressionist qualities,achieving a rare synthesis of East and West and of old and new. His poetic works have remained timeless; in spite of their foreign influences, they remain uniquely and unmistakably Japanese. The viewer is constantly challenged by Saito’s formal inventiveness.His prints display a remarkable integrity, and they will undoubtedly continue to be admired the world over for many years to come. Saito’s simple style shows great freedom and spontaneity, and there is an intentional avoidance of elegant refinement. Compositions of clearly defined visual elements and areas of rich-textured earthy colors, seen in his prints, blend well with the realistic subject matter. Sure execution and expression reveal a confident artist.
In 1981 Kiyoshi Saito was awarded the Order of the Sacred Treasure, the highest civil honor issued by the Japanese state. The Order of Culture followed, in 1995, for his lifelong commitment to promoting Japanese modern prints around the world as well as for his efforts to teach neophytes the printmaking process
The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria has approximately 130 woodblock prints by Saito, which to the best of our knowledge is the second largest collection outside of Japan. On display will be about 60 to 70 Saito prints, showing his favourite themes of landscapes, gardens, Buddhist and Shinto architecture and sculptures, portraits and views of foreign lands.