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contemporary Yoshida Hanga Academy printmaking
Japanese, b. 1946
Osamu Sugiyama was born in Tokyo in 1946. He studied at the Yoshida Hanga Academy--an institution established by the Yoshida family to teach and encourage the art of Japanese woodblock printmaking. His teacher was Toshi Yoshida, the eldest son of Hiroshi Yoshida. Toshi Yoshida had taught a group of Japanese and international students the art of making woodblocks until the beginning of his severe illness in the early 1990s that led to his death in 1995.

The passion for mountains and mountaineering has a long tradition among Japanese printmakers. The ascetic Hiroshi Yoshida may be the most famous among them. He was a passionate mountaineer and world traveler who portrayed his personal experience in many woodblock prints of mountain landscapes. During his short stop-over in Europe, Hiroshi Yoshida made sketches for two famous prints of mountain views in Switzerland--Mt. Matterhorn at daylight and a second version at night--both made in 1925.

His son Toshi Yoshida inherited his father's love for the mountains. In addition, quite a few of the sosaku hanga artists were avid trekkers, like the enthusiastic Azechi Umetaro or the less-ambitious hiker Masao Maeda. ("The finest panoramas are down in the middle heights.")

Osamu Sugiyama may have inherited the passion for mountains from his woodblock teacher Toshi Yoshida. We do not know of any other contemporary Japanese printmaker who has devoted his artistic creativity so completely to mountains as Osamu Sugiyama. He has climbed mountains all over the world--Japan, Nepal, Switzerland and Italy.

In his younger years the conquering of the summits was his prime goal--as for most mountaineers. Over the years, the experience of the activity became more important--the variety of views of warmth and severity, the changing of images under differing light and air conditions: A kind of Japanese zen approach.

Passionate hikers and mountaineers know that each mountain region has its own individual character. A mountain landscape in Nepal is different from that of Switzerland. And the mountains in South Tyrol have their own specific personality. Osamu Sugiyama is a master at catching the spirit and character of these different mountain regions.


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