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Strokes 81-21

Torii Kotondo (1900-1976)

Japanese Color Lithograph 

Strokes 81-21

by Hara Takeshi, 1981

The Heroine Koman in Tanba Yosaku from Woodblock Print Supplements to the Complete Works of Chikamatsu

IHL Cat. #166

About This Print

"Hara has been working with the theme of 'strokes' since the 1970s. The strokes are paths of light, each one a range of intensities captured by Hara's magnificent technique of colour gradation."1  His prints, exhibiting "flat coolness and perfect evenness"2 at first appear to be silkscreens, but they are achieved through lithography "often involving many different printings"3 using the artist's "special technique with a method of applying the ink with huge rollers to give his work an element of unbelievable smoothness, lushness, and control."4

I was immediately drawn to Hara's work when it first came to my attention in 2007, seeing its indebtedness to traditional Japanese calligraphy in its movement while substituting a rainbow of saturated colors for the traditional black sumi ink. I find Hara's work cerebral, alternately calming and exciting, and continually interesting. 

For this 1981 print, Hara offers us the ultimate in cool, with shades of blues and greys evoking the isolation one can feel in winter - perhaps 81-21 is the artist's ideograph for "solitude."

detail - Strokes 81-21
click on image to enlarge

1 Contemporary Japanese Prints: The Urban Bonsai, Jackie Menzies, Art Gallery of New South Wales1992, p. 29
2 Ibid.
3 Contemporary Japanese Prints: Symbols of a Society in Transition, Lawrence Smith, Harper & Row Publishers, 1985, p. 28.
4 Collecting Modern Japanese Prints, Then and Now, Mary and Norman Tolman, Charles E. Tuttle Company, 1994, p. 126.

Print Details

 IHL Catalog #166
 Title Strokes 81-21
 Hara Takeshi (b. 1942)
 Takeshi Hara
 Publication Date 1981
 Edition 32 of 60
 Publisher  self-published
 Printer self-printed
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition excellent
 Genre contemporary lithograph
 Miscellaneous Arches 88 paper
 H x W Paper 26 3/4 x 22 1/4 in. (67.9 x 56.5 cm)
 Collections This Print 
 Reference Literature