HASEGAWA Yuichi - 長谷川 雄 (b. 1945)
Hasegawa-san lives in Fukushima Prefecture, more specifically Aizu, the town where the woodblock printmaker SAITO Kiyoshi (1907-1997) also lived. In fact it was Saito who brought Hasegawa to our gallery’s attention in the late 1980s saying, “There is a guy from my hometown who makes woodblocks like nothing I’ve seen before. You should really take a look.”
It turned out that Hasegawa’s family made lacquer products and that the artist had used some of the lacquer resin to add a distinctive gleam to the surface of his pieces. He also makes reduction woodblocks. In a reduction print, a single block is used in sequence to print colors in a specific order, usually light to dark. The largest area of color is printed first, then, those areas of color intended to remain are carved away. The next color is rolled onto the same block and printed over the previous color (only those areas that were not carved away will be the newly-layered color). This sequence of carving and printing continues until all the colors have been printed, resulting in a block that has been progressively carved away, or “reduced.” The edition printed from a reduction block is truly limited because most of the surface of the block has been carved away. Many woodblocks which are printed using a separate block for each color also have a more one-dimensional, "flat" feeling, but the lacquer and the metallic paint that Hasegawa uses lend his work its signature texture.
Hasegawa lives in a rural setting; many young people have left for the big cities, looking for jobs. He has taken over an abandoned schoolhouse to use as his atelier. When I went to visit him, I was struck by the amount of workspace he has compared to many of the artists working in Tokyo. Walking down various corridors as he gave me a tour, I noticed piles of brushes and paint cans stacked in neat rows and could not help but take a quick photo.
Hasegawa says about his work: "For a long time, I have been influenced by the deep spirituality of Zen. I live in the middle of nature and strive to create meaningful works that express the power and splendor of nature."
I mentioned earlier that Hasegawa is from Aizu, a region known in Japan for its delicious persimmons. In the autumn he always sends a couple of boxes of kaki (as persimmons are known in Japan) to the gallery. And at New Year's time, we are each gifted with a small woodblock that he has made to commemorate the year past and to convey his best wishes for great things to come in the year ahead. We all treasure these gifts and I enjoy having yet another family tradition with a member of my family of artists.
Cincinnati Art Museum
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Australia
Hamburg Museum of Arts and Crafts, Germany
Newark Public Library, New Jersey
Singapore National Museum
Rockefeller Foundation Collection
Worcester Art Museum, Massachusetts
Federal Reserve Board Art Collection, Washington, DC