~Past Event ~
Ukiyo-e Printing Demonstration
@ Aki Matsuri
Ukiyo-e printing demonstrations were one of the featured events held
as a part of 2005 Aki Matsuri (Japanese Fall Festival), sponsored by Eastside
Nihon Matsuri Association in cooperation with the Japan Foundation,
the Adachi Institute of Woodcut Print, and the Consulate-General of
Japan at Seattle.
"Ukiyo-e (Japanese Traditional Woodblock Print) is a composite
art form in which the artists (E-SHI) who draw the design, the carvers
(HORI-SHI) who carve the woodblock, and the printers (SURI-SHI) who
print the woodblocks, work together to create a delicate and beautiful
work of art. Japanese traditional woodblock printing is considered
a world-class form of art and it has a 700 year history. This process
also went on to have a lot of influence in the works of many artists
such as Vincent Van Gogh and Monet from the Impressionistic period,
and it is still alive as a major form of artistic expression today.
Two 90-minute "Ukiyo-e printing demonstrations" by the printer (SURI-SHI),
Ms. Chiharu Enomoto and the lecturer, Mr. Isamu Adachi (Director and
Chairman of the Board of the Adachi Institute of Woodcut Print, Tokyo,
Japan) were conducted during 2005 Aki Matsuri.
This was such a rare opportunity to observe the printing process
of this traditional woodblock printing technique. The famous Great
Wave Off of Kanagawa by Hokusai Katsushika was used for
|About "Great Wave Off of Kanagawa"
| This work is astonishing for its fantastic composition and powerful
brushwork, showing a giant wave crashing over a boat. The low-angle
perspective and shaded waves constitute the key to this work which
is one of the foremost masterpieces, and most wellknown of all the
ukiyo-e landscape compositions.
This picture is ukiyo-e reproduction made by the Adachi Institute
of Woodcut Print.
Wave Off of Kanagawa
From the series Fugaku Sanju-rokkei-
Artist: Hokusai Katsushika
Traditional woodcut print making is a composite art from in which
the individual, specialist skills of artists, wood cavers and print
makers are combined to create a delicate and beautiful work of art
known as Ukiyo-e (pictures of the modern world). The world of woodcut
printmaking is one of grace and warmth that is not found in any other
form of printing. Through the skillful hands of master craftsmen of
the Heisei era, this traditional art from has been inherited by lives
on in the current age.
Returning to the past, it is notable that it was not the Japanese
upper-classes, but rather the common people, who cherised Japanese
Ukiyo-e prints and nurtured the development of the woodcut printing
techniques necessary to produce them.
The mass production and circulation of woodcut prints underlay the
blossoming of Japanese popular culture that occurred during the Edo
era (1600-1867). Ukiyo-e prints are widely appreciated both within
and outside of Japan. Indeed, woodcut print making techniques are
said to have had a strong influence on the European impressionist
painters of the 19th century.
Woodcut Printmaking Process & Techniques
The creation of traditional woodcut prints is based on a delicate
devision of labor between three craftsmen ... an artist, a wood carver,
and a print maker . If one of these craftsmen outshines or underperforms
the others then a hight quality print will not be crated. These are
artisans who master their own area in an unobtrusive yet dignified
manner. It is when their supreme skills are harmonized that a woodcut
print, far superior to that which could be produced by any one individual,
The creation of a woodcut print begins with the artist making a hanshita-e (a kind of template drawing to act as a guide for the subsequent printmaking
and composed only of black ink lines). The artists puts his heart
and soul int every brush stroke and the hanshita-e, which has
been created taking the avoidance of waterfulness to its extrmity,
is the entrusted to the wood carver. The carver pastes the hanshita
onto a wooden block and carves out the wood according to the black
ink lines. The artist creates a new hanshita for each color
and the wood carver then carves this out on a new block. The artist
and wood carver have to liaise closely during this process.
The completed blocks for each color are then delivered to the printmaker
amd the creation of the woodcut print nears its climax. The artist
trasnmits his image using various methods. The print maker creates
complicated combinations with his pigments and manipulates them at
will to produced assorted hues. Each artisan respects the other but
a succession of breathtaking offences and defenses by each of these
stubborn individuals occurs until both are satisfied.
A woodcut print is completed in this way. Essentialy, this is an extremely
rare artistic technique in which several people work together to complete
a vivid picture of individualistic hues. It is surely fair to say
that this is a fine art that Japan can take justifiable pride in.
Courtesy of the Adachi Institute of Woodcut Print)
Profile - Hokisai Katsushika (1761-1849)
Hokusai produced his very first print, an actor print in the hosoban
format, in 1779 at the age of 19. At the bigining of his carrer, Hokusai
concentrated on prints of actors and beautiful women but none of them
were very notable. The character of Hokusai can be best described
as restless: he changed his name more than twenty times and his place
of residence more than ninety times.
This restlessness is also reflected in the variety of his work. Although
he was initially a pupil of Shunsho and later Kano Yusen,
in his middle-age the artist selfstudied many different styles including Kano, Tosa, Chinese style and Western style. From 1795
to about 1820 he designed numerous surimono (a subcategory
of Ukiyo-e), producing same very fine works. Hokusai finally achieved
popular success in the 1830s with his publication of "Thirty-six
Views of Mt. Fuji", which was so popular that he later published
10 additional prints making a total set of 46. These additional 10
prints are popularly referred to as "Ura-Fuji" (Fuji
viewed from behind).
Hokusai is often described as the artist who brought art of Ukiyo-e
landscape prints to perfection and as a painter he is regarded as
being among the most important artists of the Edo period (1603-1867)
. One senses a certain peasant coarseness in his work, but everything
he did has a certain dignity, integrity and unmistakable character.
Much of his later work was in the fields of painting and book illustration
(Text Courtesy of Adachi Institute of Woodcut Ptint)
Adachi Institute of Woodcut Print
The Adachi Institute prides itself in making reproduction Ukiyo-e
prints by employing the same skills, techniques and materials that
were used by the original woodcut print makers of the 18th and 19th
centuries. A brief outline of the reproduction process is as follows:
1. Exact line reproduction is achieved by using a verified original
print from one of the world's major Ukiyo-e collections. The blocks
are carved by master engravers to duplicate exactly the same lines
as the original print. This engraving requires delicate sensitivity
and persistence. Old cherry wood is used for the blocks.
2. Printing is done by hand employing the same processes as were
used on the original print. This stage is tedious and painstaking,
for each color has to be printed from its own block. As with the
originals all prints are made on washi (handmade Japanese paper)
and natural dye colors are used.
The Adachi Institute conducts careful research and adheres to the
highest standards of Japanese craftsmanship in order to ensure that
its reproductions are of the greatest accuracy.
Courtesy of Adachi Institute of Woodcut Ptint)
more details, please vistit www.adachi-hanga.com