Kawase Hasui was a Japanese printmaker, active in the first half of the 20th century, who created wonderfully subtle and entrancingly beautiful woodblock prints of landscape scenes.
His images were sometimes brimming with light and the brilliant colors of Spring or Autumn at other times almost monochromatic, depicting scenes at night, twilight or in the rain or fog.
He had a fascination with the play of light and shadow, the subtle patterns of dappled sunlight or moonlight, and the strange highlights created by late morning or early evening sun. He also often composed his scenes near water, adding reflections to his fascination with light.
Even though there is no overt similarity, I feel like he has a kinship with the impressionists in his pursuit of the qualities of light and the visual characteristics of the natural world. He sometimes created multiple images of the same scene at different times of the day or in different seasons, much as Monet did.
At times he takes a solid outline filled with color approach that is suggestive of comic book art. At the other end of his stylistic range, his linework is minimal and almost overpowered by the colored inks. He traveled extensively in Japan making watercolor sketches of his subjects and many of his prints have a watercolor feel to them.
The site linked below is to the listing about Hasui on the Hanga Gallery site. The gallery site contains a remarkably complete representation of his work, containing images of almost all of his nearly 600 extant prints, arranged by publisher and year or by series. I’m particularly fond of his work from the 1940’s.
There is also a nice gallery here, with click-through navigation and a good article about Hasui here.
Link via Illustrated Ideas.
4 Replies to “Kawase Hasui”
Wow, was this guy a big influence on Maxfield Parrish?
I’m really happy to have discovered his work thanks to your post!
I don’t know of any actual reference by Parrish to having been influenced by Hasui, but I agree with you that it’s likely. Thanks for your comment. That’s exactly the kind of thing I like to accomplish with lines and colors.
This work reminded me a bit of Yoshida Hiroshi. If you like Hasui, I’m sure you will enjoy him too. Similar, sort of next level woodblock print, colours and lighting.
Check him here if you want to see some work:
Depending on its price and condition, my wife and I would like to acquire a LIFE-TIME (1936) impression of the Hasui print, “Snow at Shiba Daimon Gate.” Any suggestion of reputable sources would be greatly — and genuinely — appreciated.
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