Koshiro ONCHI Exhibition
February 6 Sat. - February 20 Sat. 2016
Koshiro Onchi, born 1891 in Tokyo, was a central figure to the establishment of the Japanese Association for Creative Prints (Nihon Hanga Sosaku Kyokai, 1918), the Japan Print Association (Nihon Hanga Kyokai, 1931), and the Japanese Print Service Association (Nihon Hanga Hokokai, 1943). He also served as a member of the print section of the Kokugakai (Association for National Art), and took part in the post-war re-establishment of the Japan Print Association in 1946. Onchi was the leader and, in a sense, the embodiment of modern Japanese printmaking.
Onchi, who was among the first to introduce a truly abstract approach to Japan, pushed his vision to a level of accomplishment that made him competitive in the international art scene. “The pure form of art has to be found in the expression of the heart through color and shape. However, people tend to think that art only needs to imitate shapes […]. What I am requiring is not the type of inferior art that probes only for a rational understanding. If you look around, though, you will find that most of the common works around are just like this” (Hangeijutsu, April 1932). With a sharp sense of judgment, Onchi tried to discover the self beyond the forms of expression of print or painting. This led him to experiment with a variety of materials and techniques.
Last year saw the 60th anniversary of Onchi’s passing, and several exhibitions commemorating the artist and the journal “Tsukuhae” that he founded have been held. In January this year opened a further major retrospective at the Tokyo National Museum of Modern Art, which features about 60 works from collections outside of Japan such as the Honolulu Museum of Art.
Toki-no-Wasuremono presents an exhibition of about 20 works by Koshiro Onchi, including woodblock prints, water colors, and sketches.
■Koshiro ONCHI (1891-1955)
Born in Tokyo in 1891, Onchi was influenced by Yumeji Takehisa's works. He studied oil painting and sculpture at the Tokyo School of Art but left the school before graduation. Onchi published the short-lived journal of art and poetry, "Tsukuhae," together with Shizuo Fujimori and Kyosuke Tanaka in 1914. In 1917, he provided illustrations for an anthology of poetry by Sakutaro Hagiwara, "Bark at moon."
In 1928, the book design for "Hakushu Kitahara Complete Works" established him as a leading book designer in Japan. He left a major mark on Japanese art history as a pioneer of abstract art and a leader of artistic printmaking in Japan. Onchi also published excellent illustrated books such as "Voluptuous flight," "A fairy tale of the sea," "A book of natural history" and "Insects, Fishes and shells." He died at the age of 63 in 1955.