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Yuji Hiratsuka was born in Osaka, Japan. In 1985 he moved to the United States. Since 1992 he has been teaching printmaking at Oregon State University. His graphic work has been exhibited in the Americas, Europe and Asia and has received numerous awards in national and international competitions. His works are in The British Museum, Tokyo Central Museum, Museum of Modern Art in New York, New York Public Library and many others.
The following statements were found in the press - either citations by Yuji Hiratsuka or by journalists about him. The statements from 2005 and 2006 came to us by e-mail directly from Mr. Yuji Hiratsuka.
"Although my real interest is still on figure, I try to open my scope to other subject matters. A few years ago I made a landscape print called Medieval Landscape - this one was hit.... Sold out quickly. Most importantly I also liked it myself (It's hard to make myself satisfied if I don't like image but people like it or vice versa...)."
"Anyway I created something similar to that print again. They are Crawling and Howling. I also like cactus - you see I made one this time Nestling Cacti. Nevertheless, my favorite one of the 13 prints I sent to you is Expedition (I can't give up figure image!)."
"Well, the figure became more realistic compared to the old ones which more likely see the bold yet simple, flat composition. You find more details on the faces but notice that the outfits have more wrinkles/details as well. Anyway, I still keep bright decorative aspects but want to introduce a slightly more realistic style in most recent work."
"... I scared off some collectors... (instead, popular among curators, art critiques. I was awarded with one of the The Way You Are for last year's Washington Printmakers Juried Exhibition. Also the image was reproduced in the 'Journal of The Print World' and CWAJ catalogue last year). Some of the images in The Way You Are depict life of Japanese (high) school girls. Yes, I somewhat wanted to express ugly aspect of human being."
(about his print series The Way You Are)
"I particulary like and collect old engravings (as well as, of course, Japanese Ukiyo-e pictures). My art is a mixture between East and West, old and new."
"I use only primary colors and black, rather than secondary color mixtures." (1987)
"The most important imagery that I use is drawn from a template directly onto copper plates. The templates I use are symbols and signs dealing with contemporary culture: chemistry, electronics, music, letters, numbers and signals. The meaning of each individual shape is not as important to me as the relationship it has to me to the surrounding images and to the composition as a whole." (1987)
"I like to express the humorous and serious aspects of disorder and chaos. Human existence is complicated by many thoughts, feelings and interpretations." (1987)
"In my portraits I always leave the face blank or flat. I do not draw eyes, noses or mouths on my portraits. The human face is always changing. Aging faces the face also. I want the viewer to add his or her interpretation to the work. The area around such a portrait is ambiguous so that the viewer can complete not only the facial features but also the mood of the entire portrait." (1987)
"It is important to me that I can work closely with the detailed textures and images on my copper plate." (1987)
"When I was 15, I decided my future." (1990)
"Japan is a wonderful country, but it is not good for the young artist. It is too conservative. They are interested in established artists. They don't want to take risks. They buy Picasso." (1990)
"My theme all through my art is to use humorous aspects." (1990)
"I like to bring light color, not dark color." (1990)
"It's still kind of insecure being an artist." (1990)
"... people dine on MacDonald's hamburgers while watching Sumo wrestling. In my work I explore this chaotic co-existence." (1990)
"It is very tough. Like a depression."
(about the U.S. job market for artists in 1992)
"I was raised among a mixture of East and West." (1992)
"My idea is to make people happy." (1992)
"It was a big frustration. You don't have time for your own work."
(about his experience as a college art teacher in Japan)
"People, when they buy art, do it as an investment."
(about the typical Japanese art buyer)
"I don't have a hobby. Art, that's my hobby. And my job is the same thing." (1996)
"I just wanted to get out of the daily life in Japan - the hecticness." (1996)
"I started realizing, well, the U.S. is treating me better." (1996)
"No reason to go home." (1996)
"In America it's always 'What's next, what's next'. They are bored easy. They have a lack of patience. In Japan and Asia, there is more a sense of patience." (1996)
"The U.S. has treated me well." (1996)
"... the simplicity born in the spirit of the Zen sect. Art based on Zen was an art based on suggestion ... emphasizing the importance of empty spaces and simple forms." (1996)
"Hiratsuka has been skating on thin ice."
Richard P. Christenson in 1987 in 'Desert News' due to a misunderstanding as a result of a poor telephone connection. When the press release arrived later, the statement was clarified correctly to:
"Hiratsuka has been creating on thin rice paper."
"His archetypal portraits with their blank faces, elongated and distorted bodies, are East/West androgynous and fashionable. Hip to a fatal degree, they look like refugees from Andy Warhol's Factory films now trying to find day work and a steady paycheck."
(Lydia B. Finkelstein in 'Sunday Herald Times' in 1990)
"Artist Yuji Hiratsuka's art work is both hip and intellectual. His prints - made with a four-plate etching process on rice paper and inspired by fashion photographs - are elegant and stimulating. They could hang with equal ease at a Hard Rock Cafe, in a boutique on Beverly Hills' Rodea Drive or at the Metropolitan Museum of Art."
(Linda Terhun in 'Gazette Telegraph', September 7, 1990)
"Balancing past and present with humor."
(Mary S. Tolman of Tolman Collection, 1996)
"The College Women's Association of Japan chose a print by Yuji Hiratsuka for their catalog cover for this year's Annual Print Show"
(Vivienne Kenrick in 'The Japan Times', October 6, 1996)
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