Kawase HASUI (1883-1957)
Kawase HASUI (1883 – 1957) Hasui studied traditional Japanese woodblock painting by Kitao Shigemasa, but he also studied Western art. Inspired by his colleague and friend Itō Shinsui's Series Eight Views of Lake Biwa, Hasui introduced himself to Shinsui's publisher Shōzaburō Watanabe, the most famous publisher of Shin-Hanga prints. From 1918, Watanabe and Hasui made the shin-hanga art movement very popular. They had a lifelong cooperation, even though Hasui published also with Watanabes competitors such as Sakai-Kawaguchi, Shōbidō 1930-31, Hōjudō, Doi Sadaichi and Katō Junji.
Hasui travelled the country and captured his impressions in his travel sketch books (called Souvenirs of Travel). In 1923, the Great Kantō Earthquake destroyed almost all of Hasui’s early works, including the sketch books and most of the woodblocks.
Kawase Hasui and Hiroshi Yoshida have been the two most popular shing-hanga artists, who focused on urban or rural landscapes. Naturalistic light, shade, textures and perspective are tools to show the tranquillity of human-nature coexistence. Seasons (early spring, midsummer, cherry blossom…), the time of day (full moon, morning mist…) and weather conditions (temple in snow or after rain…) mark the prints also temporally specific.
In 1956, the Japanese government’s Committee for the Preservation of Intangible Cultural Heritage selected Zojo Temple in Snow and the documentation of its production as Intangible Cultural Treasures, the greatest artistic honour in post-war Japan.