Japanese contemporary printmaking
Katsuyuki Nishijima was born in 1945 in Yamaguchi Province, Japan. He had studied the art of woodblock printmaking at the studio of the Mikumo Publishing company in Kyoto. From 1965 to 1970 Katsuyuki Nishijima exhibited with the artist group Kyoto Independents 1965-1970 and in solo and group art shows.
The art of Katsuyuki Nishijima has one thing in common with the shin hanga movement of artists like Hasui Kawase, Tsuchiya Koitsu or Ito Shinsui. His prints show a romantic image of Japan that has little to do with reality. Views of old shop entrances in Kyoto, farmhouses with thatched roofs, old rural store houses, colorful umbrellas, old store signs, wooden bridges and stone walls: That is the world depicted by Katsuyuki Nishijima.
We have never seen one design of a street scene that showed a car or any other modern achievements. Nor have we seen any woodblock prints by Katsuyuki Nishijima showing people. His views of narrow lanes in Kyoto or a snowy village road are always empty. Not even a strolling dog is to be seen. One feels automatically reminded of the woodblock prints by Hasui Kawase. The speciality of this artist was to depict one or two lonely people on his images, but without showing their faces. That created a rather eerie atmosphere.
Katsuyuki Nishijima goes one step further and shows deserted streets and landscapes. Nasty and sarcastic people could now come up with the idea that the artist shows no humans on his images because his skills were not good enough to draw them well. Such straightforward thoughts are by no means blasphemous. Often they hit the nail on the head and explain things better than endless pages of academic high-brow lectures.
However for Katsuyuki Nishijima this simple explanation is wrong. The artist knows his trade. He even wrote a book about the art of printmaking. His technical craftsmanship is beyond any doubt.