Hiratsuka Yuji


    Japan is a land of contrasts. On the surface it appears that the culture has taken on thoroughly American and European characteristics, but behind this Western facade, Japan's ancient and traditional philosophies have survived unchanged. I was raised among a mixture of East and West. For example, Japanese gardens are cultivated high atop thirty story Western skyscrapers, or people dine on McDonald's hamburgers while watching Sumo wrestling. In my work I explore this chaotic coexistence. 

    There are many and varied points of view in modem Japan. Some survive from historic periods of significant aesthetic and philosophical development. Two periods in particular contribute to what is known as traditional Japanese art. During the first, in the middle of the 16th century, the Shogun lords closed Japan to all foreign interactions and evolved an art independent of Chinese models. The most important influence was the simplicity born in the spirit of the Zen sect. Art based on Zen was an art of suggestion rather than expression; it emphasized the importance of empty spaces and simple forms. The second period is the Edo era of the 17th century in which the Ukiyo-e school developed a popular art form, largely prints and reproductions, inexpensively designed for common people. Ukiyo-e art was decorative and brightly colored and often featured poster-like caricatures of national personalities (Yakusha-e).

    In my work I draw from the ancient and the contemporary to express the mismatched combinations and hodgepodge which is Japanese daily life. The Zen aspect can be seen in my portraits. In this case, I always leave the face blank or flat and profile very simple. I do not draw eyes or noses on my portraits. The human face is always changing; the face at work is different from the face that enjoys the love. Aging changes the faces also. I want my prints to express this change. The portraits are left ambiguous so that the viewer can add his/her interpretation. This is the aspect of suggestion rather than expression. Also, I am interested in the humorous and colorful aspects of Ukiyo-e poster art. In my portraits I want to incorporate an element of wit through exaggeration and distortion. For emphasis, I fill in small areas with bright, whimsical colors. To express contemporary influences I use the figure dressed in Western style. My primary source of subject matter is photographs, frequently black and white, which I tear from books, magazines and newspapers. These materials are kept in my studio or in my bag, and whenever I am ready to begin a drawing for the print, I rummage through the wrinkled images.

    There are small transitions in my work from time to time, and my interest is always based on unpredictable texture that is printed from the etched surface of the copper plate. My prints explore the complex relationship of paper, ink and etched plates to describe my thought, as well as the relationship which occurs between figures and space to express other human experiences. Always I try to investigate the maximum potential available to me as a printmaker.

Selected available works

Drink Mystique
24" x 17 1/4"
24 x 17 1/4"
Magic Mirror
17 3/4" x 11 3/4"
Timid Vendor
24" x 17 1/4"
8" x 7"
Urban Preacher II
17 1/4" x 24"

Wall Paper
9 1/2" x 9"


For information on the techniques used by the artist click here.


1987-1990 Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana M.F.A. in Printmaking.
1985-1987 New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, New Mexico M.A. in Printmaking.
1973-1978 Tokyo Gakugei University, Koganei-shi, Tokyo, Japan B.S. in Art Education.



Grand Prix

5th Biennial of Graphic Art Beograd '98 International Exhibition, Beograd, Yugoslavia.

Purchase Award

4th Sapporo International Print Biennial, Sapporo, Japan.


Grand Prix

13th International Biennial of Humour and Satire in Arts, Gabrovo'97, Bulgaria.

Purchase Award

International Print Exhibition, Portland Art Museum, Portland, Oregon, USA.


Purchase Award

3rd Sapporo International Print Biennial, Sapporo, Japan.

Selected Prize

9thSpace International of Miniature Print Exhibition, Space Group of Korea, Seoul, Korea.

Superior Prize

10th Seoul International Print Biennial '96 Seoul, Korea.


Medal of Honor

Male Formy Grafiki/Small Graphic Forms, Polska-Lˇdz '91, Lublin, Poland.

Group Exhibitions


"Faultlines/Watermarks: California/Amsterdam", Der Zaaijer, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


"Eastern Approaches - Contemporary Prints from Japan, China, Korea and Thailand", Beldam Gallery, Brunel University, Uxbridge, England.

3rd  International Mini Print Triannial, Lahti City Museum, Lahti, Finland.

"An American and Chinese Print Exchange*, China National Academy of Arts, Hangzou, China.

AGART World Print Festival, Ljubljana Slovenia.


California Society of Printmaker Group Show, Institute Franco-American, Rennes, France.

22nd International Biennial of graphic Art 1997, Ljubljana, Slovenia.

International Print Triennial '97, Cracow, Poland.

Intergrafica'97 -World Winners Gallery, Katwice, Poland.

3rd British International Miniature Print Exhibition 1997/98, Off-Centre gallery, Bristol, England. Invited.

V International Art Triennial Majdanek '97, Cracow, Poland.


"Grafika japonska", Museum Czšstochowskie, Czšstochowa, Poland.

Kochi International triennial Exhibition of Prints, Kochi, Japan.

"Contemporary World Graphic Prints", Invitational Exhibition, Gallery mesiurm 11, College of Fine Arts. Bratislava, Slovakia.


"Japanilainen Hetki (Japanese Moment)", Hńmeenlinna Art Museum, Hńmeenlinna, Finland.


International Art Exhibition, Karelian republic art Museum, Petrozavodsk, Pepublic of Karelia, Russia.

International Print Triennial '95, Cracow, Poland.

Color in Graphic Art, Torum, Poland.

Malaspina Printmakers Society, Vancouver, British Colombia, Canada.

1993 2nd Sapporo International Print Biennial, Sapporo, Japan.
1st International Print Maastricht 1993, Maastricht, The Netherlands.
1992 International Paperworks Exhibition "Medium: Paper", Budapest, Hungary.
1991 5th International Biennial Print Exhibit, Taipei, Republic of China.
International Biennial of Graphic Art in Ljubljana, Yugoslavia.
4th Biennial Exhibition of Prints in Wakayama, Mudeum of Modem Art, Wakayama, Japan.
1990 6th International Miniature Print Exhibition, Space Gallery, Seoul, Korea.
6th International Biennial Exhibition of Portrait - Drawing and Graphics '90 TuzIa, Yugoslavia.
7th Seoul International Print Biennial, Seoul, Korea.
1st  Kochi international triennial Exhibition of Prints, Kochi, Japan.
"Salon d'oeuvres sur Papier de Montreal', Galerie Art-Jeunesse, Montreal, Canada.
5th Annual International Exhibition of Miniature Art, Del Bello Gallery, Toronto, Canada.
1989 4th International Biennial Print Exhibit 1989, R.O.C. Taipei, Republic of China.
CSP (California Society of Printmakers) Arts in the Danish Exchange Show, Brandts Klaedefabril, Denmark.
Male Formy Grafiki, Polska-Lˇdz '89, Poland.



 Copyright Restrictions : All images are provided for reference only and may not be reproduced without permission.