Onchi Kōshirō 恩地孝四郎, artist and author. Chū Gyo Kai 蟲・魚・介. Aoi Shobō, publisher. 1943. 26.6 X 20.8 cm. Published as a limited edition of 250cc, this has a hanko, not a number, hence is out of series. A wonderful Onchi cover and 10 prints inside illustrating his poem fragments. Artwork is on the left side with poetry printed in Japanese text on the facing page. Colophon on final page. The title Chū Gyo Kai 蟲・魚・介 can be translated as, “Insects, Fish, Shells.”The combination of the abstract and the figurative is lovely and moving. Published during the war in Showa 18 (1943) in Tokyo, as part of the series Shosō Hangachō Jūrenshū 書窓版画帖十連聚, it is very hard to find.
The accomplishments of Onchi Kōshirō 恩地孝四郎 (1891–1955) throughout the first half of the 20th century extend far beyond his eminence as a printmaker. He was an innovator who domesticated the ideas and ideals of abstraction and "creative printmaking" in Japan when still in art school. He was also an oil painter, largely in his early years, where he experimented with themes and concepts he would also apply to his prints.
From his early years, working with Takehisa Yumeiji 竹久夢二, among others, he began a long career as a book designer and book illustrator. From the very beginning of his life in the arts he was the center and focus of the Creative Print Movement (Sōsaku Hanga 創作版画), surrounding himself with fellow artists who took inspiration from his dedication to the cause of self-expression. From his student efforts in the nineteen-teens until his premature and much-mourned death in the 50s, he was a dominant influence in his world. He was also a poet and photographer of no mean skill and combined all those interests in the wonderful artist's books he created.
Fading to print on cover and toning and foxing on cover and foxing on some pages, with toning at edges.