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Contemporary Prints from Tokyo

On View: February 2, 2007 – April 7, 2007
Friday, February 2, 2007 from 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm

Article By Tyler Starr and Miki Kato, Exhibit Curators and Artists
This winter Highpoint will present an exhibit surveying the work of printmakers living in Tokyo. Tokyo is famous for the Edo-period ukiyo-e prints that innovated the water-based woodcut technique. The spirit of innovation continues in the small private printshops, old woodcut workshops and venerable art institutions that dot the largest metropolis in the world. This exhibit will include prints by well-established artists such as Tetsuya Noda, Fudezuka Toshihisa and Yosuke Imai, as well as a variety of younger printmakers including two artists familiar to Highpoint Members — Miki Kato (former Highpoint teacher) and Tyler Starr (former Highpoint Studio Manager). There will be over 30 works on display by nine different artists.

Today, Tokyo is a city where every corner stationary store sells the little handheld barens used to print woodcuts for New Year cards. Everyone carries their own hanko—a personalized seal used to stamp certification on official documents. It is a place where beautiful papers made from kozo and gampi can be seen in all aspects of daily life, from sliding doors to the fortune telling strips of paper tied to tree branches at the local Shinto shrines. Tokyo’s environment fosters sensitivity for the printed image and this quality imbues the works in the exhibit.

The artists in this exhibit use a variety of techniques and approaches to printmaking. Tetsuya Noda is one of the most renowned printmakers in Japan. He uses an original combination of traditional water-based woodcut with his own screenprinting technique (incorporating an old mimeograph machine) to create evocative glimpses of his daily experiences. His sense of humor subtly pervades the images of family and surroundings. The lithographer Hisaharu Motoda takes his surroundings and carefully renders them after imagined disasters. His deadpan toppling of Tokyo pachinko parlors and popular tourist sites stress the temporality of things. Yoshie Kawamura’s delicately manipulated aquatints present us with beautiful, sculptural forms culled from common fashion magazines.

Japan`s washi papers are used to the advantage of many prints. Fudezuka Toshihisa reveals the paper fibers by printing on the back of the sheet and then uses this as a stage for abstract improvisation. Yosuke Imai is known for sensitive observations of fish such as the aiu—a small fish that lives in the freshwater streams of Japan. He often provides color to the delicate marks of his etchings by printing on fine sheets of gampi using chine collé techniques.

Some of the work in the exhibit also considers multiculturalism as distance between countries continues to shrink with technology. Tokyo has changed in many ways from the purposefully isolated days of the Edo period. Miki Kato uses multi-plate color intaglio techniques learned while studying in Krakow, Poland. Miki’s work reflects her experiences growing up with a Japanese father and a Polish mother. Tyler Starr is an American living in Tokyo while researching contemporary approaches to the Japanese water-based woodcut technique. His images reflect the sights and stories abounding in the disappearing old downtown district where he lives.

The exhibit also questions the tradition of printmaking. Tamana Araki’s work is influenced by the experience of living in Mexico City for several years. Her etchings are often incorporated into three-dimensional installations. Yuko Someya is a young artist pushing the bounds of the definition of printmaking. She prints richly hued papers, which are then torn, collaged, and drawn upon. A whimsical use of the print, which recalls the way Ukiyo-e prints, first appeared in Europe in the form of crumpled up packing materials for Japanese goods.

Contemporary Prints from Tokyo will provide an opportunity for viewers in the Twin Cities to see work created halfway around the world in a culture with different sensibilities. Artists participating in the exhibit are: Tetsuya Noda, Fudezuka Toshihisa, Yosuke Imai, Hisaharu Motoda, Tamana Araki, Yuko Someya, Yoshie Kawamura, Tyler Starr, and Miki Kato.

HP Supporting Members: Join us on Thursday, February 1 for a special slideshow presentation and artist talk with Tyler Starr and Miki Kato. They will discuss printmaking in Japan today, present some of the materials and techniques used to create work in the exhibit, and talk about their personal experiences living and making art in Tokyo.

Earlier Event: December 1
Prints on Ice 2006
Later Event: April 27
LOOK/SEE! 2006–2007