Shiro Kasamatsu (1898-1991, 笠松紫浪) was born in Tokyo and at the tender age of 13 joined the school of Kaburagi Kiyokata, a master in traditional Japanese painting and printmaking. Clearly talented at a young age, his paintings were shown in exhibitions early on in his career. Impressed by his artistry Watanabe Shozaburo, a print publisher, convinced Kasamatsu to design woodblock prints for him. Their collaboration lasted from 1919 until the late 1940’s. By then he had designed 50 prints published by Watanabe. In the early 1950s Shiro Kasamatsu switch publishers to go to work for Unsodo in Kyoto. With Unsodo he created and published around 100 prints. These color woodcuts in the Shin Hanga style are of traditional subjects, such as landscapes, landmarks around Kyoto, as well as a few interior scenes. Like Kawase Hasui, who was also published by Watanabe, Kasamatsu showed a predilection for the depiction of the night, rain and snow scenes. Simultaneously, Kasamatsu also experimented in Sosaku Hanga, prints completely self-made: designed, carved and printed in his own hand. These compositions present a more modern, Western-influenced style. While the woodcuts published in traditional channels assured the artist a steady income, the creative self-published works can be regarded as Kasamatsu’s most personal expressions. Both sides of his oeuvre are however outstanding for their compositional and technical excellence.
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