KINOSHITA Taika (b. 1957) - woodblock
Kinoshita Taika has always loved nature. When he was a little boy, he was fascinated by time-lapse photography that had flowers blooming “right before my eyes.” Later, he was intrigued by Georgia O’Keeffe’s flowers and their erotic appeal.
After graduating from Sokei Academy of Fine Arts and Design in 1981, he traveled to the United States, Mexico and Peru. “It was exciting to be on my own in these foreign places. I was inspired by the different energy.” A few years later he received a grant from the Cultural Affairs Agency to travel to Europe.
Trying to decide which career path to select--full-time artist or master printer for other artists-- (he did in fact print for Takahashi Rikio, Isomi Teruo and Iwami Reika for an eight-year period), Kinoshita says that he learned a lot about technique and craftsmanship during this time but eventually chose to follow his dream of creating his own work.
In his early woodblocks, the serenity of flowers provides a marked contrast to the bold strokes in the background. Kinoshita mentions that he was greatly influenced by the action paintings of Sam Francis and Jackson Pollock. He wants to spark an energy flowing through his pieces that will balance the restfulness of the flowers. He produced a series of abstract monotypes mainly for his own research purposes and then changed his style when his mentor, Azumaya Takemi, urged him to go further. In the abstract series titled IMAGINE, the viewers are left to decide what the image means. Kinoshita has a particular fondness for the British rock group, the Beatles, and most of his work is named with a title from the Beatles’ albums.
"Get Back", featuring flowers, is his most traditional series and one that has enjoyed considerable commercial success. The artist planted tulip bulbs in his garden one year. A lavish crop eventually bloomed, to be followed by nothing the following year, so he had to use his imagination to expand the essence of tulip-ness. Since then, he has turned his eyes to other flowers such as irises and hydrangeas.
When Kinoshita first came to Tokyo from his native Hiroshima he flew over Mount Fuji and was always determined to put down on paper his vision of what is such a common theme in Japanese art. To his thinking, "No one besides Hokusai with ‘Akai Fuji’ and maybe Yokoyama Taikan has ever done the mountain true justice.” From his home in Kunitachi, the artist can see distant Mt. Fuji, the supreme national icon. In many images it recedes into the landscape but Kinoshita decided to create a new series, STRAWBERRY FIELDS FOREVER, to highlight the grandeur of the mountain in woodblocks of all sizes.
This artist enjoys printing and shows his work all over the world, entering his prints in biennales from Wakayama to Poland.
The Japanese love of nature has been well-documented and it is interesting to see that in the 21st century it continues to be a source of inspiration for a different generation.