Japan art and Kawase Hasui: Tales of winter

Japan art and Kawase Hasui: Tales of winter

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The esteemed artist Kawase Hasui (1883-1957) belongs to the world of Shin-Hanga (New Prints). He developed this angle to his art throughout the Taisho and Showa periods of history – while being born in the Meiji Period (1868-1912).

Hasui focused on the four seasons. He also utilized the darkness of the late evening to nightfall period to produce atmospheric art. However, for many individuals, his adorable winter landscapes stand out.

It is easy to imagine the woman and her dog looking forward to a friendly fire and something warm after reaching home. One minute, enjoying the beauty of nature and the snow-filled landscape outdoors: then happy to return home and feel the warmth inside. 

The MET Museum says, “Kawase was a leading figure of the early twentieth-century print movement known as Shin-hanga (literally, “new prints”), which focused on traditional techniques and subject matter.”

The British Museum says, “He received help in studying painting in 1897 from Aoyanagi Bokusen and in 1902 from Araki Kan’yu but was not able to take up art full-time until 1908, when his father’s business was transferred to a relative. In 1907 he began studying Western-style art, especially landscape, at the Hakuba-kai (White Horse Society) and took guidance from Okada Saburosuke (1869-1939); subsequently in 1910 he became a pupil of Kaburaki Kiyokata who gave him the art name Hasui, though the greatest influence on his style and palette was the ‘Nihonga’ painter Imamura Shiko (1880-1916).”

The real tale of winter for Hasui is that he suffered from delicate health issues when young. This continued throughout his life. Therefore, he adored the seasons and cherished the landscapes he viewed when young – while caring for his health. 

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