Wednesday, October 1, 2008


I received an email from the talented printmaker, Akemi of Kozo Studio (257 Broadview Avenue), regarding an exciting upcoming event that she and a group of others has been working towards for the last year:

Contemporary International Japanese Woodblock Printmaking
October 3 - November 15
The Japan Foundation

The Japan Foundation Toronto and JUN /KEN ARTS Collective, present a unique gathering of work by eight contemporary artist printmakers including a selection by their former teacher, artist Akira Kurosaki of Kyoto. Countries of origin include England, Ireland, Japan, Australia and Canada. These artists have flourished in individual directions, while they continue to work as printmakers employing Japanese woodblock or mokuhanga.

Keizo Sato, Master Japanese Printer, will be doing a demonstration on Wed. Oct. 8th from 7 to 9 pm at the Japan Foundation.

Akira Kurosaki, world renowned Japanese Printmaker, will be giving a lecture on the development of Modern Japanese Printmaking on Thurs., Oct. 9th from 7 to 9 pm at the Japan Foundation.

Carol Dorman and Elizabeth Forrest will be giving a lecture on Mokuhanga: Past and Present on Fri., Oct. 24th from 7 to 9 pm at the Japan Foundation.

For more information, please visit Mokuhanga Toronto.

If you aren't familiar with Mokuhanga, Canadian artist Elizabeth Forrest provides a wonderful description (courtesy Mokuhanga Toronto) :

What is Mokuhanga?
An appreciation

In Asia and Europe, woodblock printing developed into separate, but in some ways, parallel traditions. To inquire into woodblock printing is to collide with some impressive contributions to cultural enrichment in various regions of the world: the invention of paper, moveable type and the printing press, leading to the spread of literacy and all that implies. Buddhist practices in China and Japan, before 1000 CE, saw the relationship between repeating stamped images of the Buddha on an unfurling paper scroll, and the prayer rhythms of the mantra. Later, gradual secularization in Europe and mercantile prosperity in Asian societies enabled woodblock prints to become an inexpensive mode of disseminating images for pleasure and connoisseurship.

The evolving technology and social roles of Japanese woodblock prints lead one into all manner of resonances that can be revisited in contemporary work. For some artists especially printmakers, the fascination leads inevitably to the medium itself.

Speaking as one who came from far to research Japanese woodblock in Kyoto, the fascination lay not only in the technical learning experience, there was also a rich process of acculturation. Like the other foreigners in this exhibition I began with a temporary commitment which then extended into years. This kind of commitment also meant developing a facility in the language and daily customs. It meant responding to a hothouse of contemporary, as well as richly preserved, artistic activity in Japan. After a time, ordinary objects, architecture and art, became fraught with history, meaning and inner logic. As one caught up in the struggles of becoming a social being in a foreign land, the rituals of Japanese woodblock printmaking provided a profound key to understanding this strange universe.

This intense immersion experience may account for the passion that accompanies working in a medium that remains challenging, exotic and most importantly, capable of creating moments of the sublime, in the process itself.

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