Woodblock Print by Katsuyuki Nishijima, "Evening in Gokashou" (Gokashou no Yuu). Limited edition print, #108 of 500. Features artist's signature and red seal. Ca. 1980's. Horizontal format; H. 10"(25.5cm) X W. 14.75"(37.5cm). Excellent condition. *Fully matted, framed, & delivered option may be available for local purchasers (I-5 corridor from Seattle to Blaine, WA). Please contact for details.
The image is of a sunset sky in the (former) town of Gokashou, in Shiga Prefecture to the east of Lake Biwa, one of five local towns that were merged together to form the city of Higashi Oomi in 2005. Gokashou was a town of many Oomi merchants, and the Kondou neighborhood of merchant homes and storehouses, most likely the scene of this print, was designated an Important Preservation District for Groups of Traditional Buildings and a Japan Heritage site. On one side of the narrow street are the characteristic white plaster walls with ceramic tile awnings, with a crooked black pine behind it like a majestic bonsai; and on the other is an example of Gokashou's funaitabei (boat board fence), wooden planks made from old boat boards, in front of houses that are another common architectural feature in Gokashou. In the distance, a hazy orange sunset over the Hira Mountain Range, to the west, that separate Shiga and Kyoto.
Katsuyuki Nishijima, 1945 – present.
Katsuyuki Nishijima was born in Yamaguchi Prefecture at the southwest end of the main island of Honshu. At the age of 19, he started studying the art of woodblock printing making at the Mikumo Publishing Company in Kyoto. By the early 1970’s, he was beginning his career as a Sosaku Hanga (Creative Print) artist. As opposed to traditional woodblock prints of the 19th Century and earlier that were created by a team of artisans composed of designers, carvers, colorists, printers, and publishers; the Sosaku Hanga movement of the 20th Century highlighted the work of artists who self-drew, self-carved, and self-printed their own expressive works. Nishijima is a very popular contemporary Kyoto print artist and his works have been collected and exhibited widely in Japan, the US, and Europe.
Nishijima’s works could be called “romantic” in that there is something idealized and old-fashioned about his images. They rarely contain people; or modern elements such as cars, telephone wires, or even the ubiquitous Japanese trains. They focus on architectural elements such as tiled and thatched rooftops, verandas, noren shop curtains, the wooden latticework in front of Kyoto machiya buildings, stone walls, as well as Japanese rural landscapes. While these could be considered romantic and detached from reality, these elements still exist in modern-day Japan and are what visitors are drawn to and remember in places like Kyoto, Shigaraki, Takayama, and the like. One could say that instead of romanticizing Japanese scenery, he’s actually bringing out the essence of what is beautiful and important in humanity’s view of traditional Japan.