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VJP title
Utamaro print showing


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HAMANISHI Katsunori (born 1949)


hamanishiHamanishi Katsunori kanjiThe demanding art of the mezzotint has appealed to a number of Japanese artists, most notably Hamaguchi Yozo (浜口陽三: 1909-2000). Hamanishi Katsunori (浜西勝則) is another of the foremost practitioners of the technique. The Worchester Art Museum held a two-person exhibition featuring these artists in 2004. They shared an interest in the exploration of subtle and complex chromatic tonality that is elevated to a thematic level, alongside the objects or forms depicted in the compositions.

Born in Hokkaidô, Hamanishi graduated with an art degree from Tôkai University, Tokyo in 1973. He submitted his works to international juries, with much success, winning various prizes, including awards at the Ibiza International Print Biennale (1978), the Grenchen International Triennale in Switzerland (1982), and the Valparaiso International Exhibition in Chile (1989). His works are in a large number of major museum collections around the world.

Influenced by Yamaobe Yoshio (born 1936), Hamanishi has explored some of the quieter, darker qualities of the mezzotint, Much of his work contrasts representational forms of wooden objects, ropes, or branches with color forms. In others, wrapped man-made objects or natural forms emerge from a mysterious darkness. The titles he assigns to his works are often metaphysical, with terms such as "silence," "calm," "situation," "horizon," "connection," "link," and "division."

Hamanishi Div-0 picHamanishi has produced polyptychs as well as single sheets upon which an otherwise continuous composition is divided into panels. Separation is another of his themes, as in his various "Division" series. Recently his palette has brightened a bit, especially with the addition of gold, silver, copper, and lead foil to some of his compositions, many of which are more representational in subject matter than much of his earlier work. Views of stylized moonlit landscapes or sunrises also appear in his oeuvre.

The image at the top right (Division-Work No. 20) is a color mezzotint, with relief printing through collagraph (lit., "glue drawing," relief printing from layered or built-up surfaces on a plate or other rigid matrix). It was printed in 1990 for an edition of 50; the image measures 594x447 mm (sheet size, 752x530 mm). The subtle richness of the mezzotint is difficult to appreciate in such a small illustration as here, where the color-fields emerge and float on either side of a diagonally positioned rope.

The print on the left (Division-0) is a color mezzotint printed in 1994, also in an edition of 50. The image measures 280x288 mm (sheet size, 467x380 mm). This example is characteristic of Hamanishi's segmented compositions, made particularly effective by the asymmetry and varied positioning of the panels and the changing tonality of each rectangle. ©2009 by John Fiorillo


  • Smith, Lawrence: Contemporary Japanese Prints - Symbols of a Society in Transition. London: British Museum, 1985.
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