May 7, 2021

Spring Grass

         It’s high time for some more block printing, so today I have two pieces that evoke the springtime growth that’s been busy here while I was busy with the A to Z Challenge through April.  First a piece by Kong Fanjia (China, b. 1957) in which he depicts the vastness of the northern Chinese landscape.  Although this piece actually uses multiple blocks and multiple colors of ink, it is quite monochromatic and might seem wintry if it weren’t for the lushness of the grass.  In fact, it is entitled “Vigorous Grass,” which I love.  Kong says, “I wish to depict this black earth with all my sincerity,” and I think I know how he feels.
        I’m pairing Kong’s vigorous grass with a river valley by Kitaoka Fumio (Japan, 1918-2007).  This piece, too, has relatively pale greens, without high contrast.  It looks like a misty morning.  Both pieces have small flowers picked out among the grass, and flat horizons, but Kitaoka’s smooth grass and gentle curves look much more still and serene than Kong’s long, tossing billows of grass.  You might think that there’s not a lot of interest in a big field with a bit of a river and a few small flowers.  But these two artists would prove you wrong.

[Pictures: Vigorous Grass, multi-block woodcut by Kong Fanjia, 1992 (Image from Ashmolean);
A River of the Wetland, color woodcut by Kitaoka Fumio, 1974 (Image from Art Gallery NSW).]

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