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Cloudy day at Mizuki, Ibaraki Prefecture (Mizuki no Komoribi)

Hasui Kawase1946

Te Papa

Te Papa
Wellington, New Zealand

Kawase Hasui (1883-1957) was probably the greatest single artist of Japan's <em>shin-hanga </em>('modern print') movement of the early to mid 20th century. The British Museum website states : ‘he has now become recognised as Japan’s best print landscapist since Hiroshige’. A relatively late entrant into art, he was was initially compelled to work for the family rope and thread wholesale business. However, he approached Kiyokata Kaburagi to teach him, who initially rejected him and persuaded him to study western-style painting which he did for two years. He then reapplied as Kaburagi’s student, who this time accepted him. In 1917 he was attracted to an exhibition by Shinsui Ito (<em>Eight Views of Omi</em>), and then approached the great <em>shin-hanga </em>publisher Watanabe Shozaburo who got him to make three experimental prints. The rest is history: Hasui designed more than 600 woodblock prints in only 40 years, some printed in editions of up to 3000 impressions and enjoyed commercial success in Japan and internationally.

The nostalgic sense of tranquility in Hasui’s compositions "found a receptive audience" amongst Watanabe’s customers. Hasui himself found these poetic sensibilities to be rooted in appreciations of nature, in the natural cycles of seasonal change, ephemerality, or atmospheric ambience that underpinned a sense of "natural order" through which "poetic moods are emphasized, particularly those of tranquility or contemplation". The overcast greys and half-light view in his Cloudy Day at Mizuki, Ibaraki Prefecture characterise both the ordinariness of everyday subjects and habits of pictorial understatement that informed that evocative mood. For Hasui and his viewers, these quiet sensibilities, the ephemerality of nature and a monochrome interplay of shadow and darkness underpinned an "essential" Japanese tradition of beauty.

Sources:

David Bell, 'A new vision: modern Japanese prints from the Heriot collection', <em>Tuhinga</em>, 31 (2020), forthcoming.

K. Brown, Visions of Japan: Kawase Hasui’s masterpieces (Amsterdam, 2004).

Dr Mark Stocker    Curator, Historical International Art   May 2019

Details

  • Title: Cloudy day at Mizuki, Ibaraki Prefecture (Mizuki no Komoribi)
  • Creator: Kawase Hasui (artist)
  • Date Created: 1946
  • Location: Tokyo
  • Physical Dimensions: Overall: 375mm (width), 272mm (height)
  • Provenance: Purchased 2016
  • Subject Keywords: Houses | Seas | Japan (Nihon) | Showa
  • Rights: No Known Copyright Restrictions
  • External Link: Te Papa Collections Online
  • Medium: colour woodcut
  • Support: paper
  • Depicted Location: Japan (Nihon)
  • Registration ID: 2016-0008-10

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