April 10, 2017

Block Printmaker Iwami

        Reika Iwami (Japan, 1927 - ) is an extremely rare creature: a successful woman in the male-dominated world of Japanese printmaking.  She was inspired by the sôsaku hanga movement (including Hiratsuka) in the 1950s, but she has a completely distinctive style of her own.  Her work is quite abstract, but evokes elements of water, mountains, moon, and other natural forms.  Although she works with wood blocks, she also combines it with techniques of collagraph.  She also uses metallic ink and embossing to add texture to her work.
        The first piece here is very typical of Iwami’s style, showing natural wood grain as well as carved shapes and lines, and the very limited color palette.  Also note the strong embossing in the gold area.  She’s done quite a few variations of this basic composition with the circle, the waves, the wood grain, the gold…
        The second piece is Iwami’s break-out hit, published in The Modern Japanese Print - An Appreciation compiled by James Michener in 1959.  This collection of prints was instrumental in bringing recognition and success to the ten artists it featured.
        I have to confess that I don’t particularly care for Iwami’s work, but variety is the spice of life and it’s fun to feature something different on occasion.  The relatively few printmakers beginning with the letter I makes a great opportunity to pick someone I wouldn’t otherwise have looked at.

        And speaking of the scarcity of I printmakers, it looks like I’ve featured only one before!

[Pictures: Autumn Waves, woodblock and collagraph by Reika Iwami, 1981 (Image from Smith Art Museum);
Winter Composition No. 2, wood block print by Iwami, 1959 (Image from the Lavenberg Collection of Japanese Prints).]

A-Z Challenge, all posts for the letter I


Kristin said...

I like the second one. The first would probably be more interesting if I could see it closer and make out all those textures you mentioned.

Finding Eliza

Anne E.G. Nydam said...

Yeah, it's always frustrating not to see artwork in person. Block prints are so much more amazing when you can really see the way wood was carved, and ink was pressed against paper - and you can really tell that hands worked to make it.

Susanne Matthews said...

The first one reminds me of Noah's Ark. Well done. Find me here. LINK

A Tarkabarka Hölgy said...

Wow, I love the first image! So much detail, and so beautiful in its entirety... I especially like the natural wood patterns

The Multicolored Diary: WTF - Weird Things in Folktales

Linda Gardiner said...

I love both of these examples! Japanese wood block printing is such a wonderful art form. Thank you for showing these. It may be my "W"

Anne E.G. Nydam said...

It's so nice to see people enjoying these. I love that different art speaks to different people.
And Linda, that would be so cool if this inspires your "W"! =D