The Life and Works of Haku Maki

  • Publish Date: 2007-05-09
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Author: Dr. Daniel Tretiak

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Haku Maki (1924-2000) was a highly innovative Japanese printmaker of the second half of the 20th century. His prints often had a three-dimensional quality, derived from the embossing which Maki used in much of his work. His best printsand his core theme from 1965 to 1979were kanji (Chinese characters that were adopted many centuries ago by the Japanese), They were often enhanced by Maki to make them look better. After kanji, he concentrated for a decade creating prints with ceramics used in drinking tea and wine. Like kanji, these objects, deeply rooted in centuries of Japanese culture, were rendered in a clear, crisp manner.
To obtain the embossed effect, Maki used wet cement into which he carved the basic design for a print. After the design settled and was carved, Maki used double-layered paper, raising the subject from the surface of the paper.
Maki's oeuvre is characterized by clean, sharp images, whether done in black kanji on a white background or in a bright color against a dark background. His prints usually contain one outstanding object, whether kanji or a ceramic vessel or a persimmon. The viewers gaze is directed strictly to the subjectthe background is not allowed to distract.
Maki's prints invariably have a modern look and feel to themthey fit in the early 21st century just as well as they did when they were first produced 20-30 years ago. Yet Maki's primary subjects are very traditional. His achievement was to rework and update the traditional, producing an image that delights and sometimes surprises the viewer as the old emerges, recognizable but new. With little fuss and few frills, Maki allows the viewer to concentrate on the core subject and nothing else. Very Zen.

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