A rare print by a fascinating artist, if anyone has insight into the meaning behind the piece please let us know!
The Woodblock Print
This oban-sized woodblock is in exceptional condition; a clean printing with sharp color, no discolorations, clean margins and a clean verso. Bright metallic ink used throughout. The “discolorations” within the margin seem to be from the oxidized brown ink used nearby, and based on other copies we can find, this seems to be consistent.
About the Artist
Little is written in English about Sayume Tachibana, but in 2015 the Yayoi Museum hosted a 2015 Exhibition that featured around 200 of Sauyme’s works. His subject matter includes ghosts, water sprites, shape-shifting fox ladies, “hell courtesans,” and tragic stories of lost love, murder, and suicide. However, his career, which spanned the Taisho and early Showa Periods, came well before more conventional gothic influences reached Japan; so his art represents a truly authentic Japanese sense of the macabre and mysterious. Sayume is a semi-tragic figure. His introspective and otherworldly art emerged at a time when Japan was moving towards militarism and modernism. Although this means his art now has a poignant atmosphere of ghostly nostalgia, at the time it meant he could not enjoy all the success his talent merited. Also, a great many of his works were destroyed in the great fire that followed the Tokyo Earthquake of 1923, while others were destroyed in the War.
But although there’s an element of ill fortune in Sayume’s story, it also turns out that he was luckier than could be expected. The reason he developed such an idiosyncratic style was because, as a small child, he was diagnosed with a heart condition and told he would never reach adulthood. Because of his heart disease, he was obsessed with ‘the other world’ after death. He spent most of his time in childhood reading literature and folklore rather than running around like every other child does. The Japanese folklore and tradition that he loved are full of enchanting and bewitching beauty, and he was strongly fascinated by these women, and embodied them in his works of art.” Luckily, the doctors were wrong and Sayume grew up to become an artist as well as an illustrator for books and magazines.