'Temple Yard'

This original woodblock depicts a Temple Yard in classic Saito style.  There is a canopy of green trees over a Zen temple entrance. He employed a very edgy, modernistic and contemporary approach in his art (see history below).  This print bears Saito's signature and cipher in the block.  This mid-century modern-style woodblock print was produced c1960.  Saito was a sosaku hanga artist, completing all aspects of his work from idea to self-publication of his works. He handled every detail, including the carving of his own blocks. Saito's mid-century works are some of his very best.  This print's sight size is 15" by 10", and it is framed in a simple black frame measuring 20" by 15".        P4834   $695

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 Saito (1907-1997) 'Temple Yard'