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Katsunori Hamanishi



Katsunori HAMANISHI was born in Hokkaido, the most northern island of Japan, in 1949. He graduated from Tokai University in 1973 and now lives in Kanagawa Prefecture. Hamanishi is a master of mezzotint print-making, the most demanding of printing techniques, and is considered to be the foremost of artists in this field internationally.

While mezzotint printing was invented by a German in 17th Century Europe, it was the Japanese contemporary artists led by Yozo Hamaguchi (1909-2000) who developed a technique for colour mezzotint. Hamanishi succeeds Yozo Hamaguchi as the living master of mezzotint, and has enhanced this technique further with his own set of colours and styles. The basis of the mezzotint technique which originated in Europe, has thus become amalgamated into a distinctive style in Hamanishi’s works. Some of the images are starkly abstract, but more recently his works evoke traditional Japanese images of nature, architecture, and the kimono.

Hamanishi has reached exceptional technical proficiency and a new level of perfection in this very difficult medium. He is an “artists’ artist”, and when other printmakers look at his fastidious and detailed work, they are left in awe. His subjects, whether they be twigs or rope, or aspects of nature or architecture – are presented in three-dimensional form on paper. These are not produced from photographs, each image has been painstakingly burnished on the plate.

In 1986, Hamanishi received a grant from the College Women’s Association of Japan which enabled him to spend time as visiting artist at the Cleveland Institute of Art. In 1987 he received a grant from the Japanese Government’s Cultural Affairs Agency and spent a year studying at the University of Pennsylvania. He subsequently became visiting professor at the University of Alberta. During this time in Canada, Hamanishi began to introduce colour to his work and entered into the realm of division of colour rather than the realistic representation of objects. More recently, he has added metal plates or gold or silver leaf to his compositions, bringing a bright touch to his interesting images and lifting the sombre mood of a typical mezzotint. His 2003 work, “Silence – Work No. 5” depicts this beautifully.

Hamanishi has participated in numerous exhibitions and competitions, and has been awarded several prizes. In 2009 he was nominated print artist of the year at the Printfest in Great Britain. In 2004, Hamanishi had a major exhibition at the Worcester Art Museum along with Yozo Hamaguchi’s works, and in May 2012 these two mezzotint masters were again featured together at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery at the Smithsonian, Washington D.C. In 2013, Hamanishi had a solo exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Hamanishi’s work is represented in the following permanent collections:
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York;
Museum of Modern Art, New York
The British Museum, London
Osaka National Museum of Art
Taipei Fine Arts Museum
Art Institute of Chicago
University of Alberta, Edmonton
Krakow National Museum
Achenbach Foundation, San Francisco
Art Gallery of New South Wales
Library of Congress, Washington
Tikotin Mus. of Japanese Art, Israel

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