A rarely seen print by Ohno Bakufu while also being a first edition (perhaps no additional editions?). In the right margin are the first edition seal, as well as printer and carver seals.
A loose, and more playful composition and style than we normally see from Ohno Bakufu, it can easily be confused with the works of Tomochiro Tokuriki. Speaking from a personal standpoint, I find the row of octopus on the octopus fishing boat to be comical.
The Woodblock Print
This oban-sized woodblock is in very fine to excellent condition. Refined and strong color, clean and intact margins, and a mostly clean verso with two areas of tape residue in the top corners. Printed in the early 1940s.
About the Artist
Ohno Bakufu (大野麦風, 1888-1976) was born in Tokyo and worked primarily as a painter. He is best known for his work in the sosaku-hanga, or “creative prints,” movement in the early 20th century even though he published in the shin-hanga method as well. Bakufu studied under Ishii Hakutei, a leading figure in the movement, and later worked closely with Munakata Shiko.
Bakufu’s prints often featured scenes from everyday life, including landscapes, portraits, and still lifes. He was known for his use of bold, simplified forms and vivid colors, which he achieved through a combination of traditional woodblock printing techniques and his own innovations. Bakufu was particularly interested in the expressive potential of woodblock printing, and his work often incorporated elements of abstraction and distortion.
Bakufu was part of a group of artists who sought to challenge the dominant ukiyo-e tradition and create a new form of Japanese art that reflected the modern era. The sosaku-hanga movement emphasized the artist’s individual creative process and rejected the idea of prints as reproductions of existing works. Bakufu’s work embodied this ethos, as he often carved his own blocks and printed his own work, rather than relying on a workshop system.
Despite his contributions to the sosaku-hanga movement, Bakufu’s work was largely overlooked during his lifetime. It wasn’t until the 1950s and 60s, when interest in the movement was revived, that his prints gained recognition.
In addition to his work as an artist, Bakufu was also a teacher and mentor to a generation of younger artists. He taught at the Kyoto Municipal School of Arts and Crafts, where he influenced a number of students who went on to become prominent artists in their own right.
“Ohno Bakufu.” The Lavenberg Collection of Japanese Prints.
Kato, Junzo. The Early Creative Print Movement in Japan. Kodansha International Ltd, 1979.
“Sosaku-hanga: Creative Prints.” The Japan Times, 28 July 2016.