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Strokes 93-13

Torii Kotondo (1900-1976)

Japanese Color Lithograph 

Strokes 93-13

by Hara Takeshi, 1993

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

IHL Cat. #697

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 1993 print, Hara has substituted a turbulent grey background for his usual blank ground and limited the number of strokes to five.  Speaking of this new twist in the artist's work Jackie Menzies in Contemporary Japanese Prints: The Urban Bonsai, 1992 comments, "now in his recent work the strokes are fewer and contrasted against a soft, subtly expressive grey background. In such works he seems to introduce a more personal element, admitting that he wants to express the rhythm and timbre of his spirit through the strokes of his moving arm."5

detail - Strokes 93-13
click on image to enlarge

1 Contemporary Japanese Prints: The Urban Bonsai, Jackie Menzies, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 1992, 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.
5 Op. cit., Menzies

Print Details

 IHL Catalog #697
 Title Strokes 93-13
 Hara Takeshi (b. 1942)
 Takeshi Hara
 Publication Date 1993
 Edition 46 of 60
 Publisher  self-published
 Printer self-printed
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition excellent
 Genre contemporary lithograph
 H x W Paper 23 5/8 x 23 5/8 in. (60 x 60 cm)
 Collections This Print 
 Reference Literature