September 14, 2012

Woodcuts by Matsubara Naoko

        Today's block prints were done by Matsubara Naoko (b. 1937), an artist who was born in Japan, studied art in Japan and the USA, and currently lives in Canada.  She came to my attention because she did a series of wood block prints featuring Boston scenes.  Her style involves a nice balance of rough and detailed, and has a distinctly modern look without losing the subject in the style.  Besides, it's always fun to see familiar scenes.
        In some ways the most interesting one is this mostly black image of the Hatch Shell where free outdoor concerts of all sorts are performed in the summer.  The Hatch Shell is one of the things I love about Boston (despite the fact that I don't think we've made it to a single concert since the kids were born.)  Naoko has carved out only a few highlights here and there and the conductor is almost a scribble.  This is one of the most abstract of her Boston pieces that I've seen, and yet it captures that drama and excitement of an evening concert when you can't really see much but the light.
        This glimpse of ornate architectural details on Beacon Hill, by contrast, has an extremely different look and must have been a very different process to carve.  This time all the background is carved away, and the details are much more deliberate.  It's a pretty big-scale piece, too.  I love the way Naoko has done all those great patterns.
        You can see lots more of her work at her web site.

[Pictures: Boston Public Library, woodcut by Matsubara Naoko, 1969;
Hatch Shell, woodcut by Naoko, from Boston Impressions, Barre Publishing Co., 1970;
Beacon Hill, woodcut by Naoko, 1969 (image from Naoko's web site).]

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