Hamanishi Katsunori (Japanese, born 1949) has focused on mezzotint prints throughout his long and distinguished career. Perhaps the most technically demanding of all prints, mezzotints are known for their dark and atmospheric appearance. Artists create this effect by starting with a roughened plate surface that prints as a solid black background. They then use a series of burnishers and scrapers to shape the image, with the deepest gouges appearing as white areas on the finished print.
Hamanishi’s earliest mezzotints, from the 1970s, depict models that he built in his studio. His images often feature forms that tie, twist, fold, or bind, such as steel rods bound with cloth, twigs tied with ropes, origami, and kimono. In his Division series, begun in the late 1980s and continued through 2002, these familiar forms are infused with color and complemented by abstract shapes.
Mezzotint. Born 1949, Hokkaido. Tokai University.
Permanent Collections: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Art Institute of Chicago; Library of Congress, Washington; University of Alberta, Edmonton; The British Museum, London; Krakow National Museum; Osaka National Museum of Art; Achenbach Foundation, San Francisco; Taipei Fine Arts Museum; Art Gallery of New South Wales. Among numerous exhibitons, in 2004 he held a major exhibition at the Worcester Art Museum with Hamaguchi Yozo, the mezzotint master.
Hamanishi is one of a group of Japanese artists who have explored the rich, dark, three-dimensional effects achievable with the old European mezzotint techniques. It is probably the most demanding of all printing methods, and Hamanishi has reached exceptional technical proficiency in this medium. His early subjects-twigs, branches, rice stalks, rope- are presented in a three-dimensional form on paper. These are not produced from photographs, but each image has been painstakingly burnished on the plate. More recently he has began to introduce colour into his works of Japanese architecture and landscapes, adding metal plates or gold or silver leaf to his stunningly beautiful compositions.