Tomikichiro Tokuriki was born into a family of Kyoto artists that can be traced back as far as the Keicho era (1596-1615). Friends of Japanese woodblock prints know his beautiful print designs in pastel colors. But few know about his real passion - sosaku hanga prints.
The first teacher of the young Tomikichiro was his grandfather. Later he entered the Kyoto School of Arts and Crafts with a two-year preparatory class and four years of regular training, and later a three year training at the Kyoto College of Art. He graduated from Kyoto College in 1923.
While still at college, the young artist discovered his passion for sosaku hanga prints - a movement that had spread from Tokyo to Kyoto. With the assistance of an old carver and an Ukiyo-e printer, Tomikichiro Tokuriki learned everything to master the complete process of design, carving and printing himself.
Tokuriki Tomikichiro produced two lines of prints. There were the sosaku hanga prints, meaning creative prints, which were his real passion. And then there was his bread and butter art - or maybe we should better call it his rice and tea art. Pastel-like prints in soft colors with scenes of Japanese landscape and famous places. It is hard to believe! These are the prints for which he is popular. And these Tomikichiro prints in shin hanga style are neither kitschy nor poorly made, but wonderful, solid designs in traditional Japanese style.
But let's speak the artist for himself:
"I'd rather do nothing but creative prints, but after all, I sell maybe ten of them against two hundred for a publisher-artisan print."
While the artist published his creative hanga-style prints himself, the artisan-prints were published by Uchida, Unsodo and other Kyoto publishers.
Tokuriki Tomikichiro was, by the way, also an avid collector of ancient ukiyo-e.
Like so many Japanese artists of the twentieth century - Hasui Kawase or Hiroshi Yoshida for instance - also Tomikichiro Tokuriki went on extensive travels throughout Europe and the United States. In the sixties, he opened several exhibitions of his artworks in major US cities like Chicago, New York, Pittsburgh and Cleveland. And of course, he used his trips abroad to make sketches.
Tokuriki Tomikichiro represented the thirteenth generation of artists in his family. He lived in a two hundred year old house, not far away from the Imperial Palace, with a large garden with cherry trees. For a safe income, the artist sold tea from a small shop adjacent to his house.
In the compound of his two hundred year old residence, he also had his studio where he worked and taught his students - among them many from overseas. Some of them became famous artists themselves like David Kelly or David Stones.
Tokuriki Tomikichiro used to say:
"Fate made me an artist, but I made myself a hanga artist."
Color slide show by huli2005. Thanks for sharing this with us. It shows - with the exception of the last two prints - typical sheets that Tomikichiro called the publisher-artisan prints. I personally do not follow the great master in his criticism of his own designs.
Here are a few examples of woodblock prints in 'Kyoto Shin Hanga' style. They were all published by Uchida and are typical for the art works that the artist called artisan prints with a certain disdain.
In my view they are beautiful and solid woodblock prints, designed by Tokuriki Tomikichiro himself, carved by professional artisans who had been trained sometimes for more than 10 years before they could master such a challenge, and printed by professional printers whose skill requirements were comparable to those of the carvers.
Author: Dieter Wanczura