Kawachi was the most prominent of the younger artists who led the revival of the woodblock in the 1970s. He has been winning prizes since a student at Tama Art University, and his work has been sought by collectors from around the world. Born in Yamanashi Prefecture and now living in Tokyo, Kawachi is perhaps better known for his large, disquieting images of wooden beams stretched to breaking point. Such taut images, frenetically executed and full of tension and a foreboding sense of crisis, were regarded as metaphors for the catastrophe of our modern over-stressed society.
This particular print is atypical of his oeuvre to date. In it his theme is love - for him, to decorate a hat with flowers for someone is an expression of love. The idea of depicting a loved one by association rather than physical presence has a long tradition in Japanese art. The most notable example is the genre of 'Tagasode' ('whose sleeves?') painting, in which the presence of a woman was evoked by the depiction only of her beautifully draped kimono - the subject itself is not depicted.
Although the subject is gentler and more personal than that of his earlier work, this print still contains the excitement, movement and frantic lines typical of Kawachi's style. While reviving the woodblock medium, Kawachi has added his own innovations. For example, he usually prints his colours first, and then his black lines, the reverse of traditional woodblock printing methods. In addition, for his black lines he employs a unique intaglio printing method that heightens their impact.
Jackie Menzies, Contemporary Japanese Prints: The Urban Bonsai, 1992, pg. 56.
Place where the work was made
Heisei period 1989 - → Japan
60.5 x 43.3 cm image; 67.3 x 48.2 cm sheet
Signature & date
Signed l.r., pencil "S.Kawachi". Dated l.c., pencil "1991".
Gift of the artist 1993
Not on display
© KAWACHI Seikô
Where the work was made
Shown in 1 exhibition
The Urban Bonsai:
- Queensland Art Gallery, South Brisbane 04 Mar 1992–04 May 1992
- National Art Gallery, Wellington, Wellington 20 Jun 1992–09 Aug 1992
- Christchurch Art Gallery, Christchurch 12 Sep 1992–29 Oct 1992
- Manawatu Art Gallery, New Zealand 13 Nov 1992–10 Jan 1993
- The George Adams Gallery, Victorian Arts Centre, Melbourne 18 Mar 1993–25 Apr 1993
- Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney 08 May 1993–01 Aug 1993
- Lewers Bequest and Penrith Regional Art Gallery, Emu Plains 11 Mar 1994–24 Apr 1994
- Drill Hall Gallery, Australian National University, Canberra 19 May 1994–19 Jun 1994
- Campbelltown Arts Centre, Campbelltown 15 Jul 1994–21 Aug 1994
- Moree Plains Gallery, Moree 11 Nov 1994–24 Dec 1994
- Tweed River Regional Art Gallery, Murwillumbah 01 Feb 1995–05 Mar 1995
Referenced in 1 publication
Jackie Menzies, Contemporary Japanese Prints : The Urban Bonsai, Sydney, 1992, 50 (colour illus.), 56. cat.no. 26