Japanese art under the snow: Kawase Hasui (1883-1957)

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Japanese art under the snow: Kawase Hasui (1883-1957)

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Time

Japanese artist Kawase Hasui (1883-1957) belongs to the world of Shin Hanga (New prints). Throughout his life, he witnessed the dramatic changes that engulfed Japan. However, when you look at his art, you can always feel a connection to the past that brings comfort.

These works of art by Hasui are about the snowy landscape. In these images, the serenity of Buddhism and Shintoism provides another delightful angle to Hasui’s art. Therefore, with worshipers praying – while snow gently forms all around and provides beautiful backdrops – the fusion of faith and nature is in perfect alignment for the viewer of Hasui’s art.

The Sompo Museum says, “Hasui was inspired by breezes and spent his days traveling with sun, clouds and rain, painting the landscape of Japan’s four seasons. It was also a journey in search of the landscapes of yesteryear. One of the main proponents of the production of woodblock prints was Shozaburo Watanabe, a woodblock print publisher and leader of the shin-hanga (new prints) movement. Their strong desire to create something special led them to seek out woodcuts that could also be enjoyed overseas.

Hasui achieved his dream at the age of 26 after the business he was involved in failed. Initially, he studied art under Okada Saburōsuke. However, over time, he would eventually study under Kaburagi Kiyotaka.

The Museum of Art (MOA) says, “Kawase Hasui (1883-1957) first studied painting with Kaburagi Kiyotaka, but Ito Shinsui’s sensational landscape woodcuts changed the course of his career forever, becoming a painter specializing in drawings on wood.”

Hasui is widely known in Japan because the gentle nature of his art is most appealing.

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