Toko Shinoda

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Spanish slideshow of her work

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Toko Shinoda Exhibit by The Tolman Collection, Tokyo at Musee Kikuchi

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Toko Shinoda (篠田 桃紅 Shinoda Tōkō?, born March 28, 1913) is a Japanese artist working with sumi ink paintings and lithograph prints. Her art merges traditional calligraphy with modern abstract expression. She says she prefers her paintings and original drawings, because sumi ink presents unlimited colour spectrum. In printmaking, Shinoda uses lithograph as her medium. Unlike woodcut that requires chisel, or etching that requires acid, lithograph allows Shinoda to work directly and spontaneously on the plate with her fluid brushstroke. Shinoda’s strokes are meant to suggest images and vitality of nature. She says, “Certain forms float up in my mind’s eye. Aromas, a blowing breeze, a rain-drenched gust of wind…the air in motion, my heart in motion. I try to capture these vague, evanescent images of the instant and put them into vivid form.” Shinoda’s print editions are small, usually ranging from twelve to fifty-five, and after each edition has been pulled, she often adds a stroke or two of sumi color by hand to each print.

Life

Shinoda was born in Manchuria where her father managed a tobacco factory. Two years later, her family returned to Japan. Influenced by her father’s love of sumi ink painting, calligraphy and Chinese poetry, Shinoda practiced calligraphy since she was six.

Shinoda traveled the United States from 1956 to 1958. During this time her works were bought by Charles Laughton and John Lewis of the Modern Jazz Quartet. Shinoda also became involved in the abstract expressionist movement of the time.

A 1983 interview in Timemagazine noted that “her trail-blazing accomplishments are analogous to Picasso’s”. Shinoda’s works had been exhibited in the Hague National Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, Cincinnati Art Museum and other leading museums in the world.

She turned 100 in March 2013.

Books on her work

  • Takashina, Shuji. Okada, Shinoda, and Tsukata: Three Pioneers of Abstract Painting in 20th Century Japan. Washington: Phillips Collection, c1979.
  • Tolman, Mary and Tolman, Norman. Toko Shinoda: A New Appreciation. Rutland, Vermont: Charles E Tuttle Company, 1993.

Zen Aesthetics and Art

Importance of Zen Aesthetics and Art for my Printmaking practice

I have been interested in Zen meditation – its focus on awareness of the here and now and the possibilities of choice – since being a teenager. In relation to art this awareness of the moment develops an ability to observe, then capture in a few flowing strokes the essence of one’s perception of something. That ability is based on years of practice and development of a sense of composition – focusing on tensions and imbalance rather than symmetry. Zen painting explores the tension between the accidental and imperfect and that flash of control.

In relation to printmaking it has particular relevance in monoprinting – markmaking on the plate as in the large monochrome monoprints of Yamamoto. But also the possible uses of watercolour inks and capturing the way they mix both on the plate and the paper.

Japanese Aesthetics (1 of 1)

Principles of Zen Aesthetics

Zen means “meditation.” Zen teaches that enlightenment is achieved through the profound realization that one is already an enlightened being. This awakening can happen gradually or in a flash of insight (as emphasized by the Soto and Rinzai schools, respectively). But in either case, it is the result of one’s own efforts. Deities and scriptures can offer only limited assistance.

Zen Buddhism’s emphasis on simplicity and the importance of the natural world generated a distinctive aesthetic, which is expressed by the terms wabi and sabi. influenced by Mahayana Buddhist philosophy, particularly acceptance and contemplation of the imperfection, constant flux and impermanence of all things. These two amorphous concepts are used to express a sense of rusticity, melancholy, loneliness, naturalness, and age, so that a misshapen, worn peasant’s jar is considered more beautiful than a pristine, carefully crafted dish. While the latter pleases the senses, the former stimulates the mind and emotions to contemplate the essence of reality. In today’s Japan, the meaning of wabi-sabi is often condensed to “wisdom in natural simplicity.” In art books, it is typically defined as “flawed beauty.”

In Search of Wabi Sabi with Marcel Theroux

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 Zen traces its origins to India, but it was formalized in China. Chan, as it is known in China, was transmitted to Japan and took root there in the thirteenth century. Chan was enthusiastically received in Japan, especially by the samurai class that wielded political power at this time, and it became the most prominent form of Buddhism between the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries. The immigrant Chinese prelates were educated men, who introduced not only religious practices but also Chinese literature, calligraphy, philosophy, and ink painting to their Japanese disciples, who often in turn traveled to China for further study.

Many Japanese arts over the past thousand years have been  Such arts can exemplify a wabi-sabi aesthetic. Examples include:

A contemporary Japanese appraisal of this concept is found in the influential essay In Praise of Shadows by Jun’ichirō Tanizaki.

Sumi-e or Zen Ink Painting

You Tube videos on history of Chinese and Japanese ink painting

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Other Sources

Met Museum

Zen Buddhism and Art  Lieberman

Zen Painting Google images

Sumi-e or Japanese ink wash painting uses tonality and shading achieved by varying the ink density, both by differential grinding of the ink stick in water and by varying the ink load and pressure within a single brushstroke. Ink wash painting artists spend years practicing basic brush strokes to refine their brush movement and ink flow. In the hand of a master, a single stroke can produce astonishing variations in tonality, from deep black to silvery gray. Thus, in its original context, shading means more than just dark-light arrangement: It is the basis for the beautiful nuance in tonality found in East Asian ink wash painting and brush-and-ink calligraphy.In his classic book Composition, American artist and educator Arthur Wesley Dow (1857–1922) wrote this about ink wash painting: “The painter …put upon the paper the fewest possible lines and tones; just enough to cause form, texture and effect to be felt. Every brush-touch must be full-charged with meaning, and useless detail eliminated. Put together all the good points in such a method, and you have the qualities of the highest art”.

See Wikipedia article. See articles from British Museum collection.

A key practise is ensō ( , “circle”?) – a circle that is hand-drawn in one or two uninhibited brushstrokes to express a moment when the mind is free to let the body create. The ensō symbolizes absolute enlightenment, strength, elegance, the universe, and mu (the void). Drawing ensō is a disciplined practice of Japanese ink painting—sumi-e (墨絵 “ink painting”?). The tools and mechanics of drawing the ensō are the same as those used in traditional Japanese calligraphy: One uses a brush ( fudé?) to apply ink to washi (a thin Japanese paper). Usually a person draws the ensō in one fluid, expressive stroke. When drawn according to the sōsho (草書?) style of Japanese calligraphy, the brushstroke is especially swift. Once the ensō is drawn, one does not change it. It evidences the character of its creator and the context of its creation in a brief, contiguous period of time. Drawing ensō is a spiritual practice that one might perform as often as once per day.

This spiritual practice of drawing ensō or writing Japanese calligraphy for self-realization is called hitsuzendō (筆禅道 “way of the brush”?). Ensō exemplifies the various dimensions of the Japanese wabi-sabi perspective and aesthetic: Fukinsei (asymmetry, irregularity), kanso (simplicity), koko (basic; weathered), shizen (without pretense; natural), yugen (subtly profound grace), datsuzoku (freedom), and seijaku (tranquility).

Today, ink monochrome painting is the art form most closely associated with Zen Buddhism. In general, the first Japanese artists to work in this medium were Zen monks who painted in a quick and evocative manner to express their religious views and personal convictions. Their preferred subjects were Zen patriarchs, teachers, and enlightened individuals. In time, however, artists moved on to secular themes such as bamboo, flowering plums, orchids, and birds, which in China were endowed with scholarly symbolism. The range of subject matter eventually broadened to include literary figures and landscapes, and the painting styles often became more important than personal expression.

It has also inspired many modern Japanese Abstract artists like Toko Shinoda and Western abstract artists like John Cage.

Series of interesting videos on a contemporary Western Zen ink painter: Nikolai Jelneronov

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Yuji Hiratsuka

Yuji Hiratsuka sees Japan as a land of contrasts. On the surface it looks rather westernized with McDonald and Coca Cola. But underneath the facade traditional Japanese culture and values remained unchanged. His graphic work is a witty and original synthesis of old Japanese ukiyo-e tradition and modern Western elements.

website: http://www.artelino.com/articles/yuji_hiratsuka.asp

Google images

Japanese gardens are cultivated high atop thirty story Western skyscrapers, or people dine on McDonald’s hamburgers while watching Sumo wrestling. In my work I explore this chaotic coexistence.

“There are many and varied points of view in modern Japan. Some survive from historic periods of significant aesthetic and philosophical development. Two periods in particular contribute to what is known as traditional Japanese art.”

“During the first, in the middle of the 16th century, the Shogun lords closed Japan to all foreign interactions and evolved an art independent of Chinese models. The most important influence was the simplicity born in the spirit of the Zen sect. Art based on Zen was an art of suggestion rather than expression; it emphasized the importance of empty spaces and simple forms.”

“The second period is the Edo era of the 17th century in which the Ukiyo-e school developed a popular art form, largely prints and reproductions, inexpensively designed for common people. Ukiyo-e art was decorative and brightly colored and often featured poster-like caricatures of national personalities (Yakusha-e).”

“In my work I draw from the ancient and the contemporary to express the mismatched combinations and hodgepodge which is Japanese daily life. The Zen aspect can be seen in my portraits. In this case, I always leave the face blank or flat and profile very simple.”

“I do not draw eyes or noses on my portraits. The human face is always changing; the face at work is different from the face that enjoys the love. Aging changes the faces also. I want my prints to express this change. The portraits are left ambiguous so that the viewer can add his/her interpretation. This is the aspect of suggestion rather than expression. Also, I am interested in the humorous and colorful aspects of Ukiyo-e poster art.”

“In my portraits I want to incorporate an element of wit through exaggeration and distortion. For emphasis, I fill in small areas with bright, whimsical colors. To express contemporary influences I use the figure dressed in Western style. My primary source of subject matter is photographs, frequently black and white, which I tear from books, magazines and newspapers. These materials are kept in my studio or in my bag, and whenever I am ready to begin a drawing for the print, I rummage through the wrinkled images.”

“There are small transitions in my work from time to time, and my interest is always based on unpredictable texture that is printed from the etched surface of the copper plate. My prints explore the complex relationship of paper, ink and etched plates to describe my thought, as well as the relationship which occurs between figures and space to express other human experiences. Always I try to investigate the maximum potential available to me as a printmaker.”

Biography

Yuji Hiratsuka was born in Osaka, Japan. In 1973 until 1978 he studied at Tokyo Gakugei University, Koganei-shi, Tokyo, Japan. In 1978 he graduated with a BS (Batchelor of Science) in Art Education.

In 1985 the young artist, then 33 years old, decided to take a plane in Eastern direction, and moved to the United States. Hiratsuka has not been the first one to make this step. Many Japanese artists of the 20th century went to the United States – some for studies, others for teaching. Some remained only one or two years in the U.S.A. and others forever.

Yuji Hiratsuka has stayed until now in his new homeland. He first extended and intensified his studies. From 1985 until 1987 he made his MA (Master of Arts) in printmaking at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, NM. And from 1987 until 1990 he studied at Indiana University, Bloomington, and graduated with an MFA (Master of Fine Arts) in printmaking.

In 1987 Hiratsuka began to work as an art instructor. Since 1992 he is an Associate Professor at the Department of Art, Oregon State University in Corvallis.

Technique: Chine Collé with Etching

The artist uses a mixed media combination of Chine Collé with etching. Thisis a  time-consuming printing process that requires a lot of skill and experience.

“My personal technique using Chine Collé with traditional and innovative etching is the following:

With continuous alterations to a copper plate I print a sequence of black, yellow, red and blue, passing the same plate through the press for each design and color change.

To start with; the first tones to the plate are given with line etching, drypoint, aquatint, softground, photocopy transfer or roulette. I pull my first color. With these first impressions, I work back into the plate with a scraper, burnisher and emery paper to enhance the lights and accent the motif. I then go on to the second, third and fourth colors.

Finally, the print is completed from the back with a relief process of woodcut or linocut to intensify shapes and/or colors.

I print on the paper which best suits my work; this is a thin Japanese paper known as Toyama Kozo (Japanese Mulberry). As in the French use of Chine Colle I apply glue to the back of the Kozo print and pass it through the press, with a heavier rag paper (BFK Rives or Somerset, etc.) beneath. What the viewer sees; is my four color intaglio print saturated with subtle tones that come through the back of a Toyama Kozo paper which is set deep into a rag paper.”

Koichi Yamamoto

Inspiration for my printmaking

I find Yamamoto’s large abstract monochrome monoprint landscapes extremely evocative. Inspired by a Zen minimalist aesthetic, with a focus on tone and markmaking, they have a dreamy and ethereal feel – full of suggestion of light and dark, huge towering buildings or seething underlying masses in the deep. Yet cannot be completely grasped or understood.

Yamamoto Printmaking Official website

Monoprints

Google images of Yamamoto monoprints

Koichi Yamamoto is an artist who merges the traditional and contemporary by creating unique and innovative approaches to the language of printmaking.Koichi’s prints explore issues of the sublime, memory, and atmosphere.
Koichi has worked with meticulous copper engravings to large-scale monotypes.
He completed BFA at the Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, Oregon then move to Krakow, Poland for producing works and to study copper engravings in Bratislava Academy of Fine Arts in Slovakia Republic.
He studied in Academy of Fine Arts in Poznan, Poland and then completed MFA at University of Alberta, Canada. He also worked as a textile designer in Fredericia, Denmark.
He has exhibited internationally. He has taught at Utah State University and University of Delaware and currently an Associate Professor at University of Tennessee in Knoxville.
Video of his working process

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Sources of inspiration in water surfaces

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Metal engraving

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Copperplate etching Kite design

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