Japan art and Maekawa Senpan: Bathhouse to landscapes

Japan art and Maekawa Senpan: Bathhouse to landscapes

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The Japanese artist Maekawa Senpan (1888-1960) first studied oil painting under Asai Chū and other instructors at the Kansai Art Academy. However, Maekawa moved on to the sosaku hanga (creative prints) artistic movement.

The British Museum says, “Maekawa was born in Kyoto, the younger brother of a minor print-artist, Asaga Manjiro (1885-1965). He studied at the Kansai Bijutsuin from 1905, at first with Asai Chu (1856-1907), and moved to Tokyo in 1911 where he began his long career as a cartoonist on the magazine ‘Tokyo Puck’. In Tokyo he was inspired by Minami Kunzo (1883-1950) to take up self-carved woodblock printing, which he taught himself over a long period.”

Maekawa was inspired by the prints of Minami Kunzō (1883-1950) in the dying days of the Meiji Period (1868-1912). Hence, he experimented with art and was self-taught in sosaku hanga.

He famously said, “It took me ten years to learn technique; later I got acquainted with some artisans and found they could have taught me the same thing in a few hours.” 

In the book Modem Japanese Creative Prints (1955) by Oliver Statler, he comments, “He is one of those refreshing personalities who appears to be doing, without trumpeting, exactly what he wants to do. His work has a fresh, naive style, liberally salted with a sense of humor.”

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