September 27, 2022 San Francisco. Presented exclusively at the Asian Art Museum from December 16, 2022 – May 1, 2023, Color Trip: Yoshida Hodaka’s Modern Prints brings together almost 50 of this influential Japanese artist’s works in his first ever solo exhibition in the United States. Yoshida Hodaka (1926 -1995) was born into the Yoshida clan of Japanese artists famed for their travel and nature prints that blended Japanese and Western artistic styles. A rebel from the start, Hodaka defied his parents’ hopes and became an artist like them—but one who both embraced traditional woodblock print technique while forging his own unique style of fantastic, imagined landscapes inspired by his globe-spanning journeys, photography, poetry and ancient art. Producing colorful images with print processes like photoetching, Hodaka created a new aesthetic that transformed Japanese printmaking and paved the way for the next generation of printmakers.
“Hodaka was a rebel in the best sense, someone who imagined a new way of seeing the world. By combining the centuries-old woodblock printing with the modern methods of photoetching and collage and contemporary influences like Pop art and foreign travel, Hodaka opened up a new frontier in Japanese printmaking that was completely original to him,” says exhibition organizer Yuki Morishima, associate curator of Japanese art at the Asian Art Museum.
Produced over the course of almost 40 years, from the 1950s to the 1990s, the prints featured in Color Trip showcase Hodaka’s evolution as an artist. His multifaceted career included publishing his own poetry and photography, as well as making prints inspired as much by contemporary art movements as daily life. During his trips to more than 45 countries, Hodaka visited many famous tourist sites around the world, but he continued to be inspired by ordinary objects such as fire hydrants, crumbling walls, and old houses, which he documented with great enthusiasm, capturing their intrinsic beauty.
An exciting element of the show is that Hodaka’s 1973 suite of 12 poster-size Zodiac Landscape prints will be on view together for the first time ever in the U.S. Morishima says “Hodaka playfully assembled and juxtaposed ordinary objects out of context creating his surreal scenes with dreamlike atmospheres. Every time you look at these prints, you find something new and exciting hiding in the landscape.” These deeply imaginative works burst with color and astrological mystique that may remind viewers today of the graphic art of the era.
Like avant-garde waka poetry, Hodaka’s collages from the 1960s and 1970s are filled with subtly linked objects comprising images which can also be “read” like poems. In an interview before he died, Hodaka explained, “My work in composing poems was to select, to extract words, then to construct mental images while letting their prosodies resonate. Likewise, doing art…especially from my collage series onward, I merely substituted shapes for words. There is an almost exact correspondence.”
For example, after arranging cutouts of photographs, he would manipulate the pasted images with pen and ink washes to correct tones and add and eliminate details. When comparing the original photographs of old buildings with the final composition of Storehouse in Tomo (1988), his sophisticated design sensitivity and draftsman skills are as apparent as his refined photographer’s eye for detail.
The Asian Art Museum acquired Hodaka’s prints in 2016 directly from his daughter Ayomi, who is also an artist the museum has exhibited as recently as 2017. As part of Color Trip’s immersion into the Yoshida milieu, Hodaka’s sketchbooks will be presented for the first time in the United States. The exhibition will also feature more than a dozen artworks by Hodaka’s father (Hiroshi), his mother (Fujio), his brother (Toshi), his wife (Chizuko), and Ayomi, giving audiences an unprecedented opportunity to chart Hodaka’s changing course as an artist as well as his enduring connections to his family.
56 of the 63 artworks on view have never been shown at the Asian Art Museum before.
About the Asian Art Museum
Located in the heart of San Francisco, the museum is home to one of the world’s finest collections of Asian art, with more than 18,000 awe-inspiring artworks ranging from ancient jades and ceramics to contemporary video installations. Dynamic special exhibitions, cultural celebrations and public programs for all ages provide rich art experiences that unlock the past and spark questions about the future.
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Image: Zodiac Landscape series, 1973, by Yoshida Hodaka (Japanese, 1926 – 1995). Photoetching and woodblock prints; ink and colors on paper. Museum purchase, Thomas F. Humiston Acquisition Fund. Photograph © Asian Art Museum.