Saito & Sekino: Two Japanese Woodblock Print MastersMay 19, 2000 - May 19, 2000
Japan’s 20th century prints are amongst the highest calibre in the world, and command the admiration of connoisseurs and collectors internationally. These prints have developed from a rich Japanese printmaking tradition, which dates back several centuries. During the early 20th century, Japanese artists studying in Europe discovered that many internationally-acclaimed western artists handled all aspects of the printmaking process from the first sketch to the last pull, which was a sharp departure from the team work of the old ukiyo-e prints. The modern Japanese printmakers came to call their prints sosaku hanga or creative print. Two of the greatest 20th century sosaku hanga artists were Kiyoshi Saito (1907 – 97) and Junichiro Sekino (1914 – 88).
The popular style of Saito shows western Post-Impressionist influences while still retaining strong Japanese characteristics. In many ways the survival and development of the modern print is largely a result of his works and success. Saito’s bold, graceful and simplified impressions have made him very popular in the West.
Sekino has earned a reputation for his outstanding portraits, which convey the reflective inner qualities of the person depicted. He has produced fine prints of animals, architecture and landscapes, characterized by his own decorative style of naturalism, and he has also worked in bold, abstract style.