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Verne Gallery - A Gallery of Japanese Prints and Paintings
You are here > Online Catalog > Umetaro Azechi > Artist Biography

Umetaro Azechi was born in Ehime prefecture on Shikoku Island in 1902. He studied painting by correspondence course. In 1920 he moved to Tokyo only to be forced to return home after the 1923 Great Kanto earthquake. He returned to Tokyo in 1925 where he worked in a government printing office. While there, he began making prints by scratching out designs on lead plates, inking them and using a teacup as a baren. He was encouraged by the artists Un-ichi Hiratsuka (1895-1997) and Onchi Koshiro (1891-1955), the most prominent of the sosaku hanga artists, and exhibited with the Nihon Sosaku-Hanga Kyokai (Japan Creative Print Association).

"I'm grateful to Hiratsuka for his initial encouragement and his steady support all through the years.  Maybe without him I wouldn't be an artist today. As for my work, the greatest influence was Onchi [Onchi Koshiro (1891-1955)], and my simplified style today owes most to him."

After World War II he developed his distinctive angular style using bold colors, usually portraying mountains and mountain men, subjects for which he is best known.  His work reflects a sincere love of the mountains, and his personal belief in simple lifestyles. His subjects are most often drawn from the sights and Ainu folk customs of his native mountains - snowmen, mountaineers and birds. An accomplished mountaineer, who is well known in Japan for his writings about the mountains, Azechi maintained a vigorous lifestyle well into his 90's. He passed away in the Spring of 1999.

When you look at the staring eyes of Azechi's primitive mountain fold you feel a shiver of communication that defies logic. The humor in Azechi's prints delights.

Azechi's prints point out the similarities in man and birds by his use of the same bold stripes to represent the beards of his mountain men and the patterned feathers of his birds.

Museums:
Art Institute of Chicago
Museum of Fine Arts Boston
The British Museum

Remainning Snow In the Valley

Bird\'s Calling (Tori no Yobukoe)

Staring at Snow and Ice

mountain man

Umetaro Azechi, Mountain Man

Umetaro Azechi, Stand on the Snow Gorge

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