We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.


The four seasons in atelier (Spring)



Katori Takeshi


1949 –

No image
  • Details

    Place where the work was made
    Heisei period 1989 - → Japan
    Media category
    Materials used
    hand-coloured mezzotint
    70.0 x 35.7 cm image; 77.5 x 53.0 cm sheet
    Signature & date

    Signed l.r., pencil "T.Katori". Not dated.

    Gift of the artist 1993
    Not on display
    Accession number
    Artist information
    Katori Takeshi

    Works in the collection


  • About

    Already Katori has exhibited widely and received recognition for his distinctive mezzotints. Born in Tokyo, he graduated from Tokyo Gakugei University where he had initially studied etching but then turned to mezzotints after finding one by the master Hasegawa Kiyoshi (1891-1980) in a second-hand bookshop and being deeply impressed by its tone. In 1977 he further deepened his knowledge of mezzotints by travelling to Europe, meeting mezzotint artists Hasegawa and Hamaguchi Yozo (b. 1909), and also by visiting major European museums and photographing some 3000 pieces.

    About 1983 his interest shifted to still-lifes which have since been his main motif. Recently his mezzotints have become larger, and he has introduced colour into his prints, almost as if competing with oil painting. In his prints he revels in the contrast of light and dark, tones and shadows accentuated by coloured highlights. This print is one of a set on the four seasons, such sets of four having a long history in Asian painting. However the subject and composition are dearly inspired by European prototypes and a Western viewer cannot but help recall seventeenth-century Dutch vanitas still-lifes in which each element conspires to emphasise the vanity, emptiness and transience of life. In such compositions, rare and precious objects, whose very existence is the mark of a collector's vanity, are placed alongside flowers which, with their brief existence, are extremely ephemeral. Other such still-lifes are allegories of the five senses.

    While the flowers in Katori's print evoke the same admiring response as a viewer might feel in front of a seventeenth-century Dutch still-life, the banality of the other objects, including even the once popularly ubiquitous Rubik's cube, is jarring and offers an ironic comment on modem materialism and banality. Or perhaps it is a wry acknowledgement that the past is indeed a foreign country.

    Jackie Menzies, Contemporary Japanese Prints: The Urban Bonsai, 1992, pg. 53.

  • Places

    Where the work was made


  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 1 exhibition

    • The Urban Bonsai, Queensland Art Gallery, South Brisbane, 04 Mar 1992–04 May 1992

      The Urban Bonsai, National Art Gallery, Wellington, Wellington, 20 Jun 1992–09 Aug 1992

      The Urban Bonsai, Christchurch Art Gallery, Christchurch, 12 Sep 1992–29 Oct 1992

      The Urban Bonsai, Manawatu Art Gallery, New Zealand, 13 Nov 1992–10 Jan 1993

      The Urban Bonsai, The George Adams Gallery, Victorian Arts Centre, Melbourne, 18 Mar 1993–25 Apr 1993

      The Urban Bonsai, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 08 May 1993–01 Aug 1993

      The Urban Bonsai, Penrith Regional Gallery & The Lewers Bequest, Emu Plains, 11 Mar 1994–24 Apr 1994

      The Urban Bonsai, Drill Hall Gallery, Australian National University, Canberra, 19 May 1994–19 Jun 1994

      The Urban Bonsai, Campbelltown Arts Centre, Campbelltown, 15 Jul 1994–21 Aug 1994

      The Urban Bonsai, Bank Art Museum Moree, Moree, 11 Nov 1994–24 Dec 1994

      The Urban Bonsai, Tweed Regional Gallery & Margaret Olley Art Centre, Murwillumbah, 01 Feb 1995–05 Mar 1995

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 1 publication