The International Mokuhanga Conference 2014 became the start of a memorable trip to Japan. I was honored that one of my works was selected for the International Open Exhibition. A reward that became much more valuable as I saw the quality of printmaking on display in Tokyo.
Mokuhanga is simply relief prints made by hand using a baren and water-based pigments; a technique greatly admired and arguably perfected in Japan. I learned the basics of this technique from traditionally trained Keiji Shinohara almost a decade ago and am still finding new ways of expression. A rare but exciting medium and as such fosters a supportive community.
This (second) conference was a valuable venue for artists, curators, academics and the manufacturers of paper, brushes, blocks and barens to connect.
My Photobooth Kabuki piece on display
In this wonderful venue; the Chinretsukan Gallery, Geidai Art Plaza, Tokyo
I especially enjoyed the demonstrations;
Makaoto Nakayama demonstrated gold skills
I'm not sure when I'll be printing over gold leaf but now I know the basics, so who knows! Very difficult art technique from the Kyoto master.
I also had the opportunity for a short lesson from master printer Takuya Okada.
Takuya Okada holds one of the blocks he will be printing from.
A finished print. This was a demonstration of how a contemporary print is made using traditional methods. In this case the publisher, Takahashi Kobo, selected the artist, Meo Saito who produced a sketch, the carving was completed over the summer by Tsunehisa Sato and finally printed at the demonstration by Takuya Okada.
An exciting demonstration by Seiichiro Miida using his handmade "crazy barens"
Otherwise our days were filled with lectures and presentations on every topic ranging from the history of mukuhanga to the most contemporary aspects. Many residency programs presented details on their offerings. Tool makers, papermakers also put on a trade fair
Overall the conference ran smoothly, attesting to three years of what I imagine was extraordinary effort on behalf of the organizing committee. Tokyo University of the Arts in the Ueno District of Tokyo was a generous and inspired host for the the event.