Light, Texture and Solitude: the Art of Tanaka Ryōhei
Tanaka Ryōhei (b. 1933) has established himself as Japan’s foremost etcher. His works combine an immaculate eye for form with intense concentration on visual detail. Many of his themes focus around rapidly disappearing scenes of rural Japan like rustic farmhouses, but he is also captivated by traditional architectural elements—fence posts, entry ways, lattices, roof tiles. Other aspects of his work focus on trees and other forms of nature. Though some of his images recall photographic realism, they are manipulated just enough to make the viewer cognizant of the artist’s hand and presence. Though void of people, they are certainly infused with human emotions of nostalgia and a gentle melancholic wonder.
Tanaka never fails to capture and convey the material quality and texture of his subject matter, whether it is the rough and cracked bark of a pine tree or the graininess of a wooden board. Rich, velvety ink tones, stark whites, deep blacks—sometimes accompanied by vivid touches of color—combine to make images that evoke feelings of quiet solitude.