TAMEKANE Yoshikatsu (b. 1959) - woodblock
To reach Tamekane’s studio, one has to climb to the top of a hill.
His studio is bright and cheerful, much like his woodblocks. He can step out onto a spacious balcony and see Mt Fuji when the weather is clear. “We used to live in Hayama, right near the beach," the artist told me, “but the ocean air was terrible for the paper I use for my prints.” Once we arrived in his immaculate space, where the press has pride of place, I noticed rows of jars of ink and packets of mineral pigments and gold leaf that Tamekane-san has been using in his most recent work.
On the day of my visit, Tamekane-san and I met up at the Yokohama Museum to catch the final day of an exhibition on the life and work of KOMAI Tetsuro (1920-1976), a master engraver who was the first Japanese etcher to win a prize at the Sao Paolo Bienniale in 1951. We both admired the intensity of Komai’s oeuvre. The museum did a thorough job of describing Komai’s life, down to including a battered hat that the artist often donned and many letters that he wrote to poets and musicians with whom he collaborated.
It turns out that Tamekane’s own teacher, printmaker HORII Hideo, had studied with Komai, so I felt it fitting to go to this exhibition with Tamekane- san. “Your teacher was an etcher, so why didn’t you take up that technique?” I asked. “I really loved the idea of working on the surface of wood, rather than metal,” replied the artist. “I always was more drawn to the woodblock medium. Etching seemed so fiddly, but woodblock was a natural fit for me.” He showed me the sheets of handmade paper from Echizen that he uses. They were all in perfect condition, not a trace of foxing due to excessive humidity.
It was a good idea to climb to the top of the hill.
National Library of France, Paris
Museo Civico Ala Ponzone, Italy
New South Wales State Museum of Art, Australia
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
The Library of Congress, Washington D.C.
The Morikami Museum, USA
National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, Taiwan
Tikotin Museum of Japanese Art, Israel
National Narodoni Gallery in Praha, Czech Republic
Osaka Contemporary Art Center, Japan
Collection of Japanese Government Cultural Bureau
The Federal Reserve Board, USA