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A Man in Armor (17)

Japanese Color Woodblock Print 

A Man in Armor (17) 鎧へる人 (17)

by Hagiwara Hideo, 1963

Playground (1)

IHL Cat. #1765

About This Print

One of Hagiwara’s 1962-1964 twenty print homage to the samurai, through abstract renderings of samurai armor. In discussing this themed series of prints Gaton Petit writes:
In 1962-64, the powerful series pertaining to the martial arts was conceived.  The Man in Armor prints are either metallic in appearance or possess the luster of leather, like medieval breastplates.  They are visually heavy but far from being dull.  Hagiwara's sense of proportion prevents the prints from falling under their own weight.1

Hagiwara's Carving and Printing Process 
Sources: Contemporary Printmaking in Japan, Ronald G. Robertson, Crown Publishers, Inc., 1965, p. 16; Hideo Hagiwara, The Modern Japanese Print Artists, Reifu Shobo, 1992 [日本現代版画 萩原英雄 玲風書房 1992], p. 76; 44 Modern Japanese Print Artists, Gaston Petit, Kodansha International Ltd., 1973 p. 112.

The Carving

Hagiwara starts with 1/8" shina three-ply veneer plywood.2  A typical design might required two pieces of shina, which are carved on both sides, resulting in four blocks. Often he will carve the shapes for two different colors on a block, printing each color separately.  He works intuitively, loosely sketching lines directly on the block, avoiding preliminary drawings.  Working with a wide array of tools, both traditional, e.g. chisels and knivesand non-traditional, e.g. spikes, nails, electric drills, and wire brushes, Hagiwara carves, gouges and incises  the blocks.  As he carves "forms are suggested, discovered, seen and worked out on the block."  One of Hagiwara's innovations is to use a spike to cut through the first layer of veneer, achieving an effect similar to that of metal plate etching.  The intent is to create an irregular broken line which cannot be properly made with a traditional knife or chisel.

The Printing

Hagiwara considers the printing to be the most physically demanding task in making a print.  

Before he begins the printing, he prepares his print paper, hanga torinoko, by leaving dry sheets between wet newspapers until the sheets are thoroughly damp.   The dampened paper allows the pigments and dyes to penetrate deeply into the paper. Hagiwara produces the textural effects characteristic of his work by placing the reverse side of this print paper on an already inked block and then using a coarse wire baren in such a way that portions of the ink come through to the front or upper surface of the paper.  Depending upon the type of baren3 used (and Hagiwara creates his own specialized non-traditional barens), many different textural and tonal effects can be achieved.  To print the intaglio-type lines described above Hagiwara inks the blocks with with water-base colors, then gently wipes the color off the surface as in intaglio plate printmaking, and, with full baren pressure on the back side of the paper, lifts sufficient color from the lines to create an etched effect.  Hagiwara also makes extensive use of traditional woodblock special effects such as embossing and the application of mica.

Hagiwara uses a combination of both inks and dyes to achieve both transparency and opaqueness, an approach he carries over from his oil painting.  He uses either gouache or poster color for opaqueness and, for superior color transparency, he uses dyes.  Often he will mix opaque colors and dyes to achieve the desired transparency. 

Of his many innovations in woodblock carving and printing, the one most identified with his work is "both sides printing", in which the dampened paper is dyed before printing by laying its backside onto an ink soaked piece of smooth shina and then forcing the pigment through the paper using a custom baren so that varying degrees of ink penetrate the paper showing through to the front.  This results in a textural surface on which to continue with "normal" printing and this technique brings great color depth to the final print.  

Hagiwara cites his work as an inspector at the Takamizawa Woodcut Company which specialized in woodblock reproduction of ukiyo-e prints with the inspiration for "both sides printing" as he became enthralled with the ink penetration to the back side of the paper on many traditional prints.

Hagiwara typically uses three or four woodblocks that can undergo over twenty inkings to achieve his desired look.

1 44 Modern Japanese Print Artists, Gaston Petit, Kodansha International Ltd., 1973 p. 112.
2 Shina is a fine-grained plywood from Hokkaido of very high quality, free of voids, knots or blemishes.
3 The baren is traditionally consists of an inner core of tightly twisted and coiled strips of bamboo sheath sandwiched between a back plate consisting of a laminate of thin kozo paper and a cover of bamboo sheath.  It is used in a rubbing motion on the paper to transfer ink from the carved block.

Print Details

 IHL Catalog  #1765
 Title
鎧へる人 (17) A Man in Armor (17) [Yoroeru hito (17)]
 Series  A Man in Armor
 Artist 
 Hagiwara Hideo (1913 - 2007)
 Signature 
 
hideo hagiwara - pencil signed by artist in English in lower left margin
 Seal
 Publication Date  1963
 Edition  7 of 30
 Publisher  self-published
 Impression  excellent
 Colors  excellent
 Condition  good -  light handling and printing creases; light toning
 Genre  sosaku hanga (creative print)
 Miscellaneous
 Format  
 H x W Paper  38 1/4 x 25 3/8 in. (97.2 x 64.5 cm)
 H x W Image  33 1/2 x 23 3/16 in. (85.1 x 58.9 cm)
 Collections This Print  Art Institute Chicago 1977.128
 Reference Literature  Hideo Hagiwara, The Modern Japanese Print Artists, Reifu Shobo, 1992, plate 21
日本現代版画 萩原英雄 玲風書房 1992
last revision:
8-22-2018
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