White Lotus Gallery is pleased to present the following stencil prints by Mori Yoshitoshi.
13 1/5" x 20 1/2"
35 1/2" x 27 1/4"
14" x 16 3/4"
Mori Yoshitoshi (1898-1992) was one of the best sosaku hanga artists to use the medium called kappa Uri ("stencil printing"), a technique related to 'katazome' ("stencil dyeing"). 'Katazome' is said to have originated in Okinawa (the method there was called 'bingata'). The paper most widely used in Japan for stencil printing is called 'shibugami', made from several layers of 'koz˘' paper laminated with persimmon tannin. The sheets are dried and smoke-cured to strengthen them and make them flexible and waterproof. Once the artist makes a drawing, it is fixed to the 'shibugami' with a thin adhesive. The basic pattern is then carved into a "key impression" stencil (the equivalent to the key block in woodblock printing) called the 'omogata'. If colors will also be used for the final design, separate stencils are sometimes cut for each color. If the stencil pattern has thin lines they can be reinforced with silk gauze, which still allow for uniform printing of colors. The first stage of the printing process involves the application and drying of a dye-resist paste to cover all the portions of the design to be left unprinted by the design. The patterns and colors can then be brushed over the stencil while affecting only those areas without resist paste. Typically the first colors printed are the lighter areas so that darker colors can be overprinted. After all the colors are printed and dried, the key impression stencil is finally used to print the key design over all the previous colors. The dye resist paste is then washed off (called 'mizumoto', "to wash by water") and the paper is dried on an wood board.
Mori shared similar formative artistic experiences. In 1940 and 1941, respectively, Mori first met and worked with Serizawa Keisuke (1895-1984), a master of stencil-dyed illustrated books who was a leader in the folk art movement (he later received the Award of Cultural Merit from the Japanese government in 1977). His influence on these two was considerable (as it was on Shik˘ Munakata). These artists were all involved as well with the founder of the folk art movement, Yanagi S˘etsu (1891-1961), who advocated an honest and dedicated approach to traditional techniques and materials. Although Mori made a few woodblock prints, nearly all their works were stencil-dyed prints.
Mori actually began as a textile designer before turning to stencil printing in 1954 after receiving encouragement from Yanagi S˘etsu. He straddled the worlds of the artist and the artisan-craftsman until 1962, when Serizawa Keisuke criticized Mori in a well-known debate for abandoning the crafts movement. Mori thereafter devoted himself to the art of kappa Uri. His subjects included kabuki scenes, craftsmen, festivals, and figures from traditional stories.