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Kyoto Hanga

22nd November, Touraku

While ubiquitous in Japan, high quality contemporary mokuhanga is rarely seen here in Australia.

Bringing together the work of five different nationalities of mokuhanga artists for the first time in Australia, this exhibition offers a rare glimpse of the range and source of contemporary mokuhanga. Mokuhanga (literally wood block print) is the traditional water based printing technique, more commonly seen in museums as Ukiyo-e. Almost identical tools, materials and techniques are used to this day in a variety of formats and approaches, to produce these beautiful works.

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Masahiko Honjo Sanctuary, 2015, Mokuhanga water based pigments on washi, 60cm x 44cm Ed. 50

Long term resident of Japan, American Richard Steiner continues the lineage of foreign residents living in Japan drawn by traditional arts and culture. His teacher, Masahiko Tokumitsu, a Hiroshima bomb survivor, while relatively unknown in the mokuhanga world, was an accomplished member of the Creative print movement and a contemporary and friend of world renowned Munakato Shiko. Steiner’s work is playful, and while this selection eschews his usual figurative works for the most part, it has a whimsical intellectual bent and bears the stamp of the creative print movement’s focus on individual artistic expression over technical excellence. In his more than fifty years residing in Japan, he has produced an extensive body of inventive work, taught hundreds of people and exhibited his work in many countries.

tuula speed web honda shirt webi mckenna evening glow web

Tuula Moilanen Six Dreams of Ukiyo Beauty: Speed, 2009, Mokuhanga water based pigments on kozo paper, 28cm x 42cm, Ed. 36

Konomi Honda Man’s Shirt, 2015, Mokuhanga water based pigments on washi, 40cm x 51cm, Ed 10

Terry McKenna Evening Glow on Impossible Building, 2015, Mokuhanga water based pigments on kozo paper, 23cm x 35cm, Ed. 15

Masahiko Honjo of Japan meanwhile is the product of a completely different lineage, training in the workshops of Kyoto artist Masao Ido within the team of craftsmen producing Ido’s designs as mokuhanga. Schooled in traditional skills and approaches Honjo has developed a highly coloured, calm and harmonious palette with a range of textural print effects which he combines in elegant compositions. Konomi Honda, also from Japan, is representative of a wave of younger artists training under established mokuhanga artists at Japanese universities. She is also representative of a broad range of approaches young women have taken with the traditional process, seeking a personal idiosyncratic point of view to express with this traditional medium in contemporary gallery settings.

Tuula Moilanen of Finland, also with an extensive history of living, learning, producing and exhibiting mokuhanga in Japan and abroad, gives another combination of tradition, humour, cultural depth, point of view and visual language. Fluent in Japanese both in speaking and reading / writing Moilanen’s works are loaded with references to Ukiyo-e’s cultural heritage, Japanese legends and art history. Uniquely combined with her Finnish background, her work has developed its own world and a range of anthropomorphic characters that inhabit it.

Australian Terry McKenna, the curator and organiser of the exhibition, was a student of Richard Steiner while living in Kyoto for several years, during which time he met the other artists in this show. His work combines elements of realism, irony, fantasy and emotional symbology within a largely traditional mokuhanga framework. His new Ballarat Hakkei (Eight Beautiful Views of Ballarat) in this exhibition reference traditional sets of landscape ukiyo-e in an Australian setting. His older works have been previously exhibited in Australian private and public galleries.

Five different approaches within this traditional technique give a glimpse of the possibilities, the flexibility and inherent beauty of the non-toxic process that are behind the growing world-wide traction for this time-honoured technique.

steiner birds ears web

Richard Steiner Birds Ears, 2001, Mokuhanga water based pigments on torinoko paper, 46cm x 31cm

 

 

 

East and West Gallery

9th February to 25th March, 2017

Masahiko Honjo Sanctuary, 2015, Mokuhanga water based pigments on washi, 60cm x 44cm Ed. 50

Tuula Moilanen Six Dreams of Ukiyo Beauty: Speed, 2009, Mokuhanga water based pigments on kozo paper, 28cm x 42cm, Ed. 36

Konomi Honda Man’s Shirt, 2015, Mokuhanga water based pigments on washi, 40cm x 51cm, Ed 10

Terry McKenna Evening Glow on Impossible Building, 2015, Mokuhanga water based pigments on kozo paper, 23cm x 35cm, Ed. 15

Richard Steiner Birds Ears, 2001, Mokuhanga water based pigments on torinoko paper, 46cm x 31cm

Images courtesy of the artists and East and West Gallery

What is Mokuhanga?

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Detail of traditional print "Haru Nano Higashi Genji" by Kunichika Toyohara

 

Mokuhanga is the traditional water based printing technique, originating in China and perfected in Japan.

A print is created through design, carving blocks for each colour, then printing each colour successively until the print edition is completed.

 

Mokuhanga is the Japanese word for wood block print. The Japanese characters 木版画 are 木 wood, 版 block and 画 picture.

 

In Japan its meaning is the print itself, but in general contemporary use it means both the print and the technique. Mokuhanga is growing in popularity worldwide as learning becomes more accessible to people outside of Japan.

 
 

 

Kunisada Printmaking tripty

 

 

 

Mokuhanga is chemical free, non-toxic, environmentally friendly, uses relatively simple hand tools and equipment and requires little space to produce beautiful work. The natural beauty of the materials - wood, pigment and hand-made paper are all retained and enhance each other. A great choice for Artists or any creative person!

 

no-poisons no-press

 

 

 

Kyoto Mokuhanga Tour

kyoto torii

 Find out more about this exciting, small-scale and unique tour

Download Tour 1 (September) Brochure (PDF)

Download Tour 2 (October) Brochure (PDF)

Students Login Here

Looking for the Kyoto School?

Are you looking for Richard Steiner's Kyoto International Mokuhanga School?

Find it here:Kyoto School Website

 

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Frequently Asked Questions

Are you running classes at later dates?

Yes! Our aim is to make Mokuhanga popular and accessible in Australia, so we would like to run as many courses as we can. This means repeating workshops and weekly courses. If you can't make an already scheduled weekend or weekly time, keep in touch by email, or keep watch on the website for upcoming courses as they are announced.

Do I have to make a Japanese style print?

No - you can make any style of image you prefer! Although the technique is "Traditional Japanese", your image can be anything you like, from realistic to abstract, single colour to multi colour..

 

The technique and medium lends itself to certain kinds of images - simplified imagery with clear blocks of colour is easiest to achieve for the beginner and fine lines and complicated combinations is better for the more experienced mokuhanga artist.

 

For your first print we will stress the importance of starting simply, as it is easy to become frustrated with a complicated piece in the beginning as you are just coming to terms with carving and printing.

 

 

I have some lino tools, are they OK to use?

Yes and er... no, it depends on the quality of the tools. You can carve with any tools that are sharp enough, and the Shina plywood we supply is relatively soft and easy to carve. With the cheapest tools it is not possible to get a sharp edge and you will soon become frustrated with these. It is better to use tools of higher quality - you will get better results, carving will be easier and more enjoyable, and you will progress quicker.

 

By all means bring the tools you have to a course and we can look at them and give our opinion. In course you can trial the student sets we sell and see if they are suitable for you.

 

 

My hands are not strong, can I carve the wood?

Some older people with weak hands or people with physical problems (such as RSI) find the intensive carving work difficult. If you are not used to using your hands, a weekend workshop can leave your hands tired / sore from holding and pushing the chisels.

 

If you think it is a problem you will need more time and less pressure to complete the carving and a weekly workshop might be more suited for you. The Shina plywood is relatively soft and with care you can carve a simple project. In the workshop we also have some time to assist your carving.

 

In the end it is your decision if you would like to try.

Will it take long to become good at Mokuhanga?

How long... well it depends how much you practice like every kind of skill. You could do one course to get the basics and then practice on your own, continuing to make your own mokuhanga, or you could do several courses and move on to more advanced levels. In reality it will take some time to fully grasp the fundamentals, become competent and consistent. Also you may have an existing skill set that you can apply - printmaking skills, art skills with other media, woodworking skills..

 

So, sorry there is no easy answer.

 

If you have never printed before it is realistic to aim for a simple, finished print from one course, but you will then need further practice or courses to develop the skills you need to make multi-colour prints with quality printing and registration and few or no errors.