Hasui Kawase (Japanese, 1883-1957)
Born in the Siba district of Tokyo, Hasui Kawase (born Bunjiro Kawase) is one of the most significant representatives of the Shin-Hanga movement in the 20th century. Coming from a family of silk merchants, he developed a strong penchant for drawing and landscapes during his stay in Shiobara, north of Tokyo. He commenced learning drawing, creating numerous nature sketches, and replicating prints of great Japanese masters under the tutelage of the artist Aoyagi Bokusen. Family obligations forced him to halt his apprenticeship to take over the family business. In 1926, after its bankruptcy, he chose to continue his study of drawing and studied Western landscape painting under the artist Okada Saburosuke for two years, then at the studio of Kiyokata Kaburagi, from whom he obtained his artist name "Hasui".
He began his career by producing illustrations for magazines and patterns for the textile industry. His encounter with Watanabe Shozaburo, a renowned print publisher and originator of the Shin-Hanga movement, enabled him to entirely dedicate himself to landscape drawings, subsequently printed by Watanabe, and propelled his career. His work is characterized by serene compositions evoking the grandeur of landscapes and devoid of characters. Snow and night scenes are most prevalent and directly inspired by his travels throughout Japan. He utilized sketches as the basis for these broader compositions intended for printing.
He gained official recognition in the 1930s when he was exhibited several times at the Toledo Museum of Art (exhibitions in 1930 and 1936). After the Second World War, the Japanese government utilized his works to promote tourism and present a better image of the country, and in 1953, his work "Zojoji Temple in the Snow" was recognized as a national treasure, the highest artistic distinction in Japan.
Known as one of the last traditional Japanese landscape artists, he passed away in 1957, leaving behind a body of work comprising more than 600 prints. Presently, he is acknowledged as one of the masters of traditional Japanese printmaking, and his works are present in the collections of numerous museums worldwide.
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