'Village Temple'

This woodblock depicts a Village Pagoda or Temple in classic Saitō style.  He employed a very modernistic and contemporary approach in his art.  This print bears Saitō's cipher in the block.  This mid-century modern-style woodblock print was produced in 1958.  The print size is 16" x 11.5", and the frame measures 20" x 14".  Kiyoshi was a sōsaku-hanga artist in 20th-century Japan. In 1938, he issued his first prints in his now famous "Winter in Aizu" series. Saitō was one of the first Japanese printmaking artists to have won at the São Paulo Biennale in 1951.  His early works depict villages populated with local Japanese with a high degree of realism and three-dimensionality. Saitō's more mature works merge modern elements with Japanese tradition.  Saitō' spent time in Paris, and produced a series of prints there.   P4594   $395

Gathered from online sources, Kiyoshi Saito was born in Sakamoto, Fukushima prefecture. He studied Western-style painting at the Hongo Painting Institute and exhibited his oil paintings with various art groups and societies. After having a print accepted by the Kokugakai ("National Picture Association"), Saito began to seriously pursue printmaking. In 1938 he issued his first prints in his now famous "Winter in Aizu" series.  His first solo exhibit was held in Tokyo in 1942.  After steadily gaining recognition, he won first prize in 1951 at the Sao Paulo, Brazil international biennial exhibition for his print called "Steady Gaze," where it won, over both prints and paintings. Saito admired Piet Mondrian and some of Saito's views of buildings and temples seem to display that influence in simplified form.  Saito worked primarily in the woodblock medium, while also producing works in collagraph, drypoint, and color and ink paintings.  He carved his images into blocks of various woods, either solid katsura or plywood faced with katsura, rawan, yanagi, keyaki, shina, or lauan to obtain a wide range of textures. In some cases he used only one block for all the colors in a design, while for others he needed as many as six different blocks.  Saito has been widely known for his distinctive style and it is easily recognized by simplified and graceful renditions, usually in tranquil greens, grays or browns.  Although his work is well appreciated in Japan, his prints have been especially popular in the West. Saito depicted peaceful images of traditional Japanese gardens, temples and his hometown village of Aizu.  He often utilized the grain of the woodblock as an integral part of the design, and employed harmonious lines and shadows to evoke tranquil serenity.  In every print, he offered his own unique approach to composition. Architectural studies became abstracted, renditions of gardens or temples have an intriguing perspective to add mystery, studies of joyful children include complex fabric patterns, and pathways and tree limbs are offered in provocative juxtaposition to an old thatched roof farmhouse. The viewer is constantly challenged by the artist’s creativity and ingenuity, while at the same time being offered quiet, restful scenes rendered in an easy and affectionate mode. Saito continued to do traditional woodblock printmaking well into his eighties.

Kiyoshi Saitō (1907-1997) 'Village Temple'