Katsunori Hamanishi is one of the best at one of the most demanding of all printing methods, the mezzotint. Sometimes confusion arises because to the uninitiated, Hamanishi Katsunori sounds like Hamaguchi Yozo, often referred to as the worlds greatest living mezzotint artist. Aficionados of Japanese prints will recall Hamaguchi’s velvety black prints with a few cherries as the focal point. Hamanishi is 62 years old but is the present master in his field. He is what is called an “artist’s artist” because when other printmakers look at his fastidious and detailed work they are left in awe.
His prints’ appeal is obvious: Hamanishi has reached a new level of perfection (so taken for granted in virtually all Japanese printmakers) in a very difficult method. His subjects – twigs, branches, ropes, rice, kimono and tea room windows are presented in a three dimensional form on paper. They are not photographs; each image has been painstakingly burnished on the plate, raising the viewer’s expectation to a higher level than usual, expectations that are fully met.
Hamanishi is not concerned with an all-encompassing view of the world, but more with a microcosmic look, like a close-up magician with his small captive audience. He loves shapes, their inter linking, their details, all of which he slowly and deliberately reveals in his unparalleled, meticulous mezzotints. In recent years he has begun to add a bright touch of red or green as a contrapuntal note to his detailed compositions, and these sudden bursts of color point up even more the dazzling brilliance of his creative imagery.
In May, 2012, “The Art of Darkness” at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery opened at the Smithsonian featuring Hamanishi’s and Hamaguchi’s mezzotints.
In 2013 Hamanishi had a one man show at the Art Institute of Chicago
Museum of Modern Art
Metropolitan Museum of Art
The British Museum
Hokkaido Museum of Art, Japan
The Art Institute of Chicago
Cleveland Museum of Art
The Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco
Library of Congress, Washington D.C.