Tanaka, Ryohei, b.1933

Much of what is most beautiful in Japan is quickly disappearing. Among these glorious ephemera are the thatched-roof farmhouses commonly seen just a few decades ago. Tanaka’s minutely accurate etchings lovingly capture the memorable qualities of these roofs—a few shrubs unexpectedly sprouting amid the straw, the thatching as neat and clean as a boy’s hair combed for Sunday school. Only someone who dearly loves these things could render them so honestly and with such fidelity. Trees in these prints seem to have branches even more threadlike than real trees, so finely are they etched against a stark sky or an inclined plane of straw. Tiles, slatted window covers, latticed screens possess a reality that seems to defy the city planner’s dream of turning everything into pasty poured concrete. The colors are somber, as befits the sad loneliness of their subject: umber, black, greenish gray tones are all Tanaka needs. One can only marvel at the delicacy of these prints; they belittle photography the way an old house belittles a modern apartment complex. Taken in whole, or in part from: Blakemore, Frances. Who’s Who in Modern Japanese Prints. Weatherhill, Inc: New York. 1983.


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