katsutoshi yuasa woodcut works

Printmaking as an image medium

I wonder whether photography is printmaking or not. While the essence of photography is to provide a different form of sight than the naked eye, there is not enough discussion about how to print out an image. In the history of art, many critics wrote theories of painting and photography but not printmaking. Why? Because in printmaking, there are no philosophy even if there are special skills, tradition and a long history. So I would like to attempt to think about print as an image medium.

The image medium is involved with our sight, perception, memory and remembrance. And also it is related to how to print (commit) in the brain and how to print out (output) information. As a critic of photography Chihiro Minato said in his book, “The memory is the construction and also reconstruction. The memory is creation and also re-creation. … Our memory is the constructed present based on the context and emotion, and also is the past based on the moment.” (Memory, Kodansha) Painting is to change the world to a picture but an image medium is the world to visualize, symbolize and be a printing plate.

It is often said that printmaking is an indirect expression. They attract the eventuality via a printing plate and they incorporate an unintended happening as own expression. In the mean time, we cannot see anything without any information of our experience, old information and influence from the environment and circumstance. As Chihiro Minato described, we only see the adjusted present. The printing plate is an image of the past when I drew and painted. The past is adapted to the present. The printmaking is in fact visualizing a process of our memory and it is a medium related with the past and present.

I think if I see printmaking as an image medium, there are important universal philosophical questions about our presence and . The reason why we innovated printmaking is to deliver the important things to many people. Since the Great East Japan Earthquake was happened, we understood that we lived in such an unstable world. While we have to prepare for a next catastrophe, we live in harmony with nature and we have to start considering seriously about what we should carry to the future.








2 videos show how I make woodcut prints

色即是空 : All is vanity

In the second exhibition at Artify gallery, I'm going to show many colour woodcut prints but the reason why I use colours is not only makes playful and happy moment but also I have a question where the beauty come from. The images of new stripes prints are based on a photo of massacres of children by Islamic state and Boko haram. On the Internet, there are many images we don't want to see and know but everything is happened in the real world but we cannot touch it and no smell and no temperature I am thinking Art is a kind of nonviolent terrorism against the unjust world. Especially beauty is power. That's why I try to make works beautiful as much as possible even based on such a cruel photo.


Film Interview by SAXONY

Beyond "Beyond Assumption" a text for solo exhibition IN THE GALLERY, Copenhagen

The day after the day when Japan was hit by the massive natural disaster on 11th March in 2011, I heard and saw the word “Beyond assumption” in many news media. Tokyo Electric Power Co. explained that the nuclear power plant in Fukushima was suffered serious damage by unexpected enormous tsunami. They repeated to say that “it was beyond assumption” again and again at a press conference. But the facility, which has a significant impact on human and nature if they have a problem such as the nuclear plant, should simulate the any condition of the incident even if it has a low possibility. However, their assertion was to prepare for a major accident would only make the public worry. In the old Japanese convention, to think the worst case brings bad luck. Even so we have the long history and experience of natural disasters. So we have to assume “Beyond assumption” with imagination.

Meanwhile, artists have romantic notion of “Beyond assumption” for the artwork. I am also aching the unexpected encounter in the process of making. I start from a photographic snapshot but re-emergence of a photographic image is not my goal. My purpose of using a photograph is to be visible something which is perceived but no one sees. I believe that imagination can beyond assumption. I have spent 10 years with woodcut print. Carving a wood block is neither a copy of a photograph nor a record of my experience. The carving process is like a journey for shedding light on place of the world. I think there is a line of sight only by the craftsmanship. My aim of making artwork is for update the origins of the world and myself. The essence of printmaking is how to receive the accident with the subjective passiveness. It is not just passivity. This is a way of beyond assumption by imagination.


Print as an image medium −イメージメディアとしての版画−

写真とは印刷か、版画か、それともプリントであろうか? 写真の本質とは肉眼の視覚とは異なる新たな視覚の様式をもたらしたということであり、イメージをいかにプリントアウトするかという方法に関してはあまり議論されていない。これまで多くの絵画論、写真論というものが語られて来たのに対して、版画論というものは存在しないに等しい。それはなぜなのか? 版画には様々な技法、伝統、歴史が存在するが、哲学が不在しているからだ。そこで私は版画をイメージメディアという言葉に置き換えて考えてみたい。





Woodcut as a new way of photography

My woodcut print and relief work are based on my own digital photographs. While woodcut is a very traditional Japanese printmaking technique that is a long process of production and all carving and printing all by a hand, I think there contains many interesting questions regarding the origin of photography.

The original meaning of photography is a primitive light picture using a camera for catching light. However I lost the vague atmosphere and personal emotions when I take the photographs by the camera. There is just the fictional two-dimensional information in the surface and there is no reality or no real existence. Therefore I cannot be satisfied with a result of the photographs as my representation. I have decided to use the woodcut technique as a way of exposing images for adapting the subjective perception to the objective fiction. I would like to grasp the light to plywood by a hand instead of exposing the film. The reason why I use monochrome photographs as a start point is for crystalisation and refinement of light. In the monochrome images, there are only black and white dots or lines and white becomes light and black becomes darkness. After spending several weeks for carving on plywood and printing on paper, the work as a final result of my representation is already far away from the original simultaneously it is not reality or fiction. It would be said the abstract reality or the real abstract because it contains both of objective and subjective perceptions and interactions between light and I. Then I hope the work makes the neutral space for others and me in the new dimension.

Tools and Process of Woodcut