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Galerie Sommerlath

Kaminoyama Jokoji Temple by Kiyoshi Saito- Limited Edition

Kaminoyama Jokoji Temple by Kiyoshi Saito- Limited Edition

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What if art was simply the mirror of life, a reflection of the multitude of our existence and perception of our environment? Around the world, printing has become an essential part of art. This was especially true in Japan, where woodblock printing defined the national aesthetic. These pieces involve engraving an image or words onto a block of wood painted with ink and pressed against paper.

Many documents about the Japanese artist Kiyoshi Saito say he did not have it easy. Nature endowed him with an impulse for art and the drive to make the impossible possible. Saito studied European artists to recognize better the qualities of the Japanese tradition itself, for which modern international trends strive. His woodblock prints, which use traditional Japanese techniques, are among the most sought-after pieces in the art market.

Our artwork is a color woodblock print of the "Kaminoyama Jokoji Temple." The artist has used tonal variation to create an almost three-dimensional experience on a two-dimensional wood print, incorporating the unpredictability of the process. The light filters through the gray and darker shades, guiding us along an alley that leads to a luminescent door, inviting from afar. As we traverse the path lined with different species of trees, we enter a quintessential Japanese garden where the harmony between natural elements and man-made structures is palpable. The path, crafted from varying levels of amalgamated gravel or specialized cement, guides the gaze toward this rectangular beam of light, evoking a door through which life expresses itself.

Kiyoshi Saito's woodcut technique manifests a visual haiku, an elegant dance between economy and imagery. Like its literary counterpart, the artist compartmentalizes images into three distinct sections: the imposing groves lining the path, the pebble-laden alley receding into an enigmatic horizon, and finally, the luminous gate, each ascribing to the strophic pattern of a traditional theme.

Kiyoshi Saito ( 1907 – 1997) was a renowned Japanese printmaker known for his innovative contributions to the Sōsaku-hanga (creative print) movement. Born in Aizu-Wakamatsu, Fukushima Prefecture, Saito’s artistic journey began at an early age when he developed a fascination with woodblock prints. His initial exposure to traditional Japanese art, mainly ukiyo-e prints, profoundly influenced his artistic style.

Encounters with influential figures in the Japanese art world marked Saito’s formative years. He studied Western-style oil painting at the Tokyo School of Fine Arts under Kiyokata Kaburagi, a prominent artist and ukiyo-e revivalist. Exposure to traditional and modern techniques enabled Saito to develop a unique artistic vision, blending traditional Japanese aesthetics with contemporary sensibilities.

One of the significant turning points in Saito’s career came in 1932 when he encountered the works of Shiko Munakata, a renowned woodblock print artist. Munakata’s bold and expressive approach to printmaking profoundly impacted Saito, leading him to embrace a more individualistic and experimental style. Saito drew inspiration from Munakata’s use of simplified forms and bold lines, which became defining characteristics of his artistic expression.

Saito’s artistic style underwent further transformation during a visit to Europe in the 1950s. Exposed to the works of Western artists, including the German Expressionists and the Fauvists, Saito incorporated elements of Western modernism into his prints. He experimented with color and composition, moving away from the traditional Japanese woodblock print conventions and pushing the boundaries of the medium.
Saito’s distinctive style combined traditional Japanese woodblock techniques with a modernist sensibility, resulting in a fusion of Eastern and Western artistic traditions.

His work can be seen at the Cincinnati Art Museum, Greater Victoria Museum, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Denver Art Museum, Art Institute of Chicago, Tikotin Museum of Japanese Art, and many others.

PERIOD: Mid-20th Century
CONDITION: Excellent
MEASUREMENTS: Height: 17" Width: 22" Depth: 0.5"
CREATOR: Kiyoshi Saitō

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