New Art: Vintage Editions by Uehara Konen July 29 2014
Even if you don't know it by name, you're almost certainly familiar with the tradition and aesthetics of Japanese woodblock printing. Hokusai’s waves at Mt. Fuji were recently transformed into a Google Doodle, a modern-day way of venerating the master himself. In today's editions, Hatō zu 1 and Hatō zu 2 (meaning "wave" in Japanese), the lesser-known Uehara Konen evokes the similarly sublime.
Born in 1878, printmaker Uehara Konen was thrust into a moment of great change for the woodblock tradition (in the Meiji period). For the first time in centuries, Japan had opened up its borders; American and European artists began sailing over to study the great masters of this tradition.
The iconic subject matter—of landscapes, kabuki theatre, and scenes of everyday life—that didn’t change. Uehara Konen's endlessly blue Hatō zu 1 and Hatō zu 2 appear familiar, but you can also see hints of a Western style emerging. Just look at the impressionistic lines that cause his powerful waves to roll—they give off the feeling of a single moment in time. The result is traditional and modern at the same time—timeless and of the moment
While Uehara Konen may have embraced the changing tides in Japan, it was only by a little bit. He was part of the “Blue River” school, a moniker applying to artists who felt estranged from the rapidly changing modern world. That’s why he turned to nature, finding solace in its unchanging grace. And in our world of always-new and even-newer tech, we often find ourselves feeling the same way. It’s only natural.
With art for everyone,
Jen + Team 20x200