July 1, 2014

Toshijiro Inagaki

        Here’s another artist I couldn’t find too much information about.  Toshijiro Inagaki (Japan, 1902-1963) was primarily known as a designer of kimono patterns.  These patterns were made by using stencils to print on fabric with a resist medium before dyeing.  Although most of the pieces I found on-line were labelled as woodcuts, in one place the similar-looking style was labelled as being printed from paper stencils, which is what they actually look like.  Still, it’s 
unclear to me whether some of those stencil-looking pieces were done with stencils, or whether he just did his woodcuts with that same style.  The pieces I’ve selected to show here mention embossing in their descriptions, which would mean they’re definitely woodcuts.  But whatever the medium, the style clearly reflects a stencil sort of way of looking at shape, color, and space.  Inagaki’s pieces mostly have large areas of ink and no ink without any small, detailed texture cuts.  They differ from the traditional Japanese wood block printing technique in being carved and printed from single blocks.  When they have multiple colors, the colors are inked all over the single block at once, blending.  This, too, is reminiscent of fabric printing.
        I’ve been able to find pictures of many of Inagaki’s pieces that have been printed in several different color variations, including pure black options.  I tend to favor those, of course, but I’ve included one of the colored ones today so you get more of a feel for Inagaki’s typical work.  (Not that I can claim to be an expert on his “typical work” with the small amount of info I found.)
        I did find one interesting note stating that Inagaki was part of the sosaku hanga movement that “advocated that to be ‘art,’ the woodbock print must be self-drawn (jiga), self-carved (jioku), and self-printed (jizuri) with the desire of expressing the self.”  Yet in other places I found statements that his blocks were printed by someone else.  Another mystery.
        Finally, I include one last example by Inagaki that is much more traditional.  There’s no statement about how many blocks this piece used, but if it was just one, it was presumably inked in multiple stages at least.  It’s very simple, but very pleasing, I think.

[Pictures: Temple in Forest, woodblock print by Toshijiro Inagaki, 1950s;
Mt. Arashiyama, woodblock print by Inagaki, 1950s;
Yasaka Pagoda, woodblock print by Inagaki, 1950s;
Path in a Grove, woodblock print by Inagaki, 1950s (Images from artelino);
Evening Sky, woodblock print by Inagaki, 1950s (Image from UkiyoeGallery.com).]

Quotation from UkiyoeGallery.com

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