You know I’m not going to pass up on the chance to expand and build upon my knowledge, it’s always exciting to learn about artists that have come before. Actually, it’s more frequent that I feature craftsmen and designers who are still making at the moment, but rarely do I feature those who have paved the way for them. So over the last week I’ve had a whale of a time learning about the creative work of Japanese printmaker Koshiro Onchi. Koshiro was a pioneer of abstract art in Japan, he also modernised printmaking and explored other areas such as oil painting, pen drawing, photography, and book design. What appealed to me was the pure creativity in his work, alongside his unique ability to fuse the East and the West in terms of style.
Onchi was the son of a high-ranking official of the Imperial Court who was a painter, calligrapher, and scholar of Chinese studies. Koshiro attended a Japanese-German middle school in preparation for a career in medicine, but in a twist of fate his knowledge of German provided him with access to art from painters and printmakers like Wassily Kandinsky and Edvard Munch. This obviously played a key role in some of his artistic choices and planted the idea that art was about experience instead of purely replicating an image.
Instead, he thought that the essence of printmaking came from the process of using blocks to impart shapes and colours onto paper, thus he could experiment with diverse and unconventional techniques. For example, he would often use fabrics, string, paper blocks, fish fins, and leaves to connect his works for the natural world around him. Here I have placed up a few of my favourite prints from Koshiro, but I would recommend heading over to the Museum of Fine Art Boston of the Honolulu Museum website to see other fantastic looking prints (which unfortunately I can’t place up due to copyright restrictions). I’m especially fond of Objet a L’ombre (Still Life with Shadows) and Pitcher and Lemon, I like the contrast between the realism in some and abstract nature in others.