A bonfire or campfire is seen among a copse of trees, their silhouettes framing the fire and rising smoke in a dynamic composition with the only warmth coming from the small fire at the base.
Designed and self-published by the artist, Shiro Kasamatsu was one of only a handful of artists that were successful as both Shin-Hanga and Sōsaku-Hanga artists. Published in 1959, this is a limited edition, first edition, numbered in pencil “47/200” without any edition letter. Stamped and sealed. Self -published print, dated “1959”. Japanese title “Bonfire”. Red seal at the lower-left corner of the image. Red tiny square seal “Shiro Hanga”. Extremely rare and sought-after self-published print.
The Woodblock Print
This woodblock is in very fine condition, with rich, strong color throughout the woodblock. A mostly clean verso (two small spots from being tacked), intact margins, light and even toning, deckled edges. Kento cutout in the lower corner.
About the Artist
Shiro Kasamatsu (笠松 紫浪, 1898-1991) was a Japanese engraver and print maker trained and excelled in the Shin-Hanga and Sōsaku-Hanga styles of woodblock printing.
Shiro was born in Tokyo in 1898, and was apprenticed at the age of 13 to Kaburagi Kiyokata (1878–1973), a traditional master of bijin-ga. Kasamatsu however took an interest in landscape and was given the pseudonym “Shiro” by his teacher. Kasamatsu made woodblock prints for the publisher Shōzaburō Watanabe from 1919 until the late 1940s. All of the earlier woodblocks were destroyed in a fire in Watanabe’s print shop following the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923. Around 50 prints were published by Watanabe by the late 1940s. Kasamatsu began to partner with Unsodo in Kyoto from the 1950s and produced nearly 102 prints by 1960. He also began to print and publish on his own in the Sōsaku-Hanga style, producing nearly 80 Sōsaku-Hanga prints between 1955 and 1965 (pencil signed and numbered editions).
Shiro Kasamatsu is unique within modern Japanese woodblock printmakers in that he is equally well-regarded for both his shin-hanga and sosaku-hanga prints.