May 17, 2017

Block Printmaker Yamanaka

        When I decided to feature Gen Yamanaka (Japan, b 1954) today, and was searching around for more images of his work, I recognized one.  Turns out I actually have posted a piece from him before, but only as a thumbnail.  So today I have that piece again, big enough to appreciate better, and a couple of others, each of which has a slightly different sort of style (though they all have the same horizon).
        Yamanaka belongs, according to one biography, “to a leading group of contemporary Japanese woodblock artists who are guided by pure abstractions and symbolic representations of contemporary life.”  This first piece definitely looks symbolic of something - perhaps the isolation of modern life or something.  But I’m not so sure about the others!  So let’s forget meaning and look at technique.
        There’s a slightly different ink effect on each of these pieces.  On the first, you can see the marks of the ink being painted onto the block, leaving brush strokes.  The use of opaque white ink in places adds to a feeling of paintiness.  In the second piece, by contrast, the wood grain in the “sky” is quite clear, and there is some bleeding of color around the “figures,” which imply a very thin, watery ink.  On the other hand, perhaps the effect was artificially achieved by double printing a slightly smaller area over a slightly larger one in order to leave a thin border; I can’t quite tell.  As for the third piece, it looks almost more like a paper collage with its totally flat, geometric shapes.  Adding to the effect is the use of opaque white ink instead of allowing uninked paper to be the image’s white.
        Once again, this artist is almost exactly contemporary with the previous two (W and X), but working in a completely different milieu, and with a completely different style.
        Looks like if you don’t count Yamanaka himself, I have previously featured one Y printmaker:
Young, Sarah

[Pictures: The Night Piece I, color woodblock by Gen Yamanaka, 1985 (Image from the Verne Collection);
White Night, color woodcut by Yamanaka, 1990 (Image from the Cleveland Museum of Art);
Seven Houses, color woodcut by Yamanaka, 2014 (Image from the Verne Collection).]

A-Z Challenge, all posts for the letter Y


Kristin said...

The 3rd one looks like a starry starry night with little houses or beach houses. I like the way you describe technique.

Anne E.G. Nydam said...

Thanks! And thanks for sticking around through my whole belated A-Z Challenge! =)