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"A devotion to perfection in everything they do."
(Captain Algren, played by Tom Cruise, in the film "The Last Samurai")
A proper assessment of the art work of Yoshiharu Kimura is hardly imaginable without an understanding for the quest of Japanese people to reach perfection in what Westerners would consider a small facet of life. Yoshiharu Kimura has strived for perfection in depicting the true nature of birds.
As it is unfortunately so often the case with contemporary Japanese artists, we do not have too much information. Even the knowledge of the Japanese language does not make it easier to get some biography data. Here is the little that we have about the artist's career. The list is certainly not complete. And the fact that it stops in 1988, does not mean that Yoshiharu Kimura has retired or has been forgotten.
We simply have no information about his activities after 1988. But we have received many of his prints for consignment that date as late as 1999. And judging from Yoshiharu Kimura's art prints from the 1990s, he must be very alive, sound and kicking.
The artist works in the medium of the woodblock print. All prints that we have seen so far, were limited editions, signed and numbered.
Out of twenty-six prints by Yoshiharu Kimura that artelino has sold since 2002, twenty-five showed birds as the primary or at least secondary subject (a wood with birds). Only one showed something different - a Japanese stone garden. It is fascinating to observe how the subject has remained the same, but how the artist's style has developed over several decades. It is like a mirror of the "Zeitgeist" in fashion and design trends that the fine arts have spearheaded from the post-war period until our days. And for those who are old enough to have experienced the 1960s, it is an interesting look back into a period that is so close, and nevertheless now seems so far away.
The image of this egret was created in 1963. The edition size was 50. Typical for this period of the artist are the extremely symbolized depiction of wood as more or less an accumulation of vertical lines. The image reminds of the abstraction of forms in the post-war period. Europe and Japan were still under the influence of the experience of the reconstruction after the traumatic devastation of world war II. The other strong influential factor is the impact of the "American way of life". The magic word in all sections of life was "modern".
This woodblock print was created in 1977. The colors of this print are distinctively more brilliant. The edition size is 85.
The emphasis of this design from 1986 is on composition and on the combination of colors. Yoshiharu Kimura used flat areas as the old ukiyo-e masters did. The print is "decorated" with silver-colored pigments. These luxury elements had been a characteristic of lush ukiyo-e prints of the late 19th century. The print makes a "stylized" impression. The edition size is 85.
Most designs from the 1990s that we have seen, show owls. Yoshiharu's owls do look rather whimsical. Often the title signals humor. A bit of "tongue in cheek"? This design was created in 1999, and has an edition size of 85. The artist is now 67 years old. The owl is the symbol of wisdom. Yoshiharu Kimura has not lost any vigor, and his owls signal that he has not lost the fun in creating woodblock prints of birds and (sometimes) other animals. It is like:
"Hundreds of bird images, and I am just warming up."
Author: Dieter Wanczura, April 2005
Helen Merritt and Nanako Yamada, "Guide to Modern Japanese Woodblock Prints: 1900-1975", published by University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu, ISBN 0-8248-1732-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.