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Mr. Ryohei Tanaka is one of the popular contemporary Japanese printmakers. If you have any doubts, just "google" for "Ryohei Tanaka" and the first three pages will show relevant hits for this grandmaster of Japanese printmaking who has documented for ca. four decades a disappearing world in photorealistic etchings - the world of the rapidly disappearing rural Japanese countryside.
First Publication: November 2006. Latest Update: April 6, 2013)
Ryohei Tanaka was born in 1933 in Takatusuki City, Osaka. He studied etching with Professor Furuno Yoshio in 1963. And in 1966 the young artist started exhibiting with JPA (Japanese Print Association) and became a regular member in 1973.
Unlike the majority of Japanese artists, Ryohei Tanaka does not work with the technique of the traditional woodblock. His preference are etchings. But he uses also aquatint and mezzotint. The choice of his techniques has been defined from beginning by the artist's ambition to show the world of old rural Japan with its unique thatched-roof farmhouses in meticulous, photo-realistic details.
Since his studies with Professor Furuno Yoshio, Ryohei Tanaka has neither changed his subjects nor the techniques used. To understand the philosophy of Japanese artists and artisans, we remember a sentence from the movie "The Last Samurai":
"A devotion to perfection in everything they do."
Ryohei Tanaka has devoted his life to perfect images of old rural Japan as it once was and as it still can be found with all signs of decay. He does not want to create impressions nor expressions. He wants to show this world as precise and realistic as he can by making perfect images. Photography could hardly catch the essentials of reality as well as Ryohei Tanaka's etchings do.
Like Hasui Kawase also Mr. Ryohei Tanaka travels a lot to sketch his subjects on the spot. He does not invent places. Each print image is taken from nature. With Hasui he has another common style element. Hasui showed none or typically only one lonely person in his images. On Ryohei's images you will hardly ever find any humans at all. The houses look deserted - and many actually are.
Back at home the hard work of creating a new print begins - by drawing thousands of fine lines on a plate. It is hard to understand how it is possible to create the impression of straw, wood or a crumbling brick wall just by making lines in black. Any attempts of explanations must fail. In the end it is this capability of an artist, to create something that nobody else can do, that makes him a unique and great artist.
Most of the images are to our knowledge taken from the area around Kyoto. Many Japanese artists and Japanese-Western artists like Brian Williams or Joshua Rome have lived and worked in this rural area.
When you browse on the internet for art prints by Ryohei Tanaka you will find a wide variety of prices from ca. USD200 to ca. USD1,000. Rip-off? Not really. Ryohei keeps his prices affordable for everyone. But he follows strictly two principles: larger formats are more expensive than small ones, and larger editions are cheaper than smaller ones.
Most of the artist's works are in black and white. Sometimes he adds a second color like sepia that make the print look like an old photograph. But multicolor is rare.
The artist has exhibited repeatedly with the best-known names among galleries in Japan and those specialized in modern Japanese art outside Japan. We therefore list only a few of the names without trying to make it a chronological exhibition resum�.
88 sold object(s) by Ryohei Tanaka born 1933 in our Art Archive
Author: Dieter Wanczura
.. more about Dieter Wanczura
Mary & Norman Tolman, "Collecting Modern Japanese Prints Then and Now", published by the Charles E.Tuttle Company, Inc., 1994, ISBN 0-8048-1936-X.
The images on this web site are the property of the artist(s) and or the artelino GmbH and/or a third company or institution. Reproduction, public display and any commercial use of these images, in whole or in part, require the expressed written consent of the artist(s) and/or the artelino GmbH.