Sunday, May 6, 2012

Art of Darkness: Japanese Mezzotints from the Hitch Collection

Where: Sackler Gallery

When: through July 8, 2012

In contrast to the other exhibitions of Japanese art on offer now at the Sackler and Freer, this show features the work of modern artists.  Rather than the depictions of trees, or Mount Fuji, or cherry blossoms, or Buddhist religious art that one might associate with Japanese artists, these are quite different.  The mezzotint style is a printmaking process used in Europe for centuries; this exhibit shows how a very old process is used by modern-day artists.  One of the artists featured in the show is Hamaguchi Yozo, who lived the same years as my grandfather, 1909-2000.  The cherry print shown here is one of his.  As the artist varies the prints, the colors change; it was interesting to see how one image could be made to look quite different.

This show is part of a collection to be given to the Sackler by Ken and Kiyo Hitch, collectors of 20th and 21st century Japanese art.  It's wonderful that people will give their collections to the Smithsonian, thus ensuring that many people will be able to see these works.

Verdict: Well worth a look - quite a small exhibit, so easily paired with another on view or with a leisurely stroll through the museum.

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