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Kazuma Oda

(1882-1956)

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Born in Shiba-Koen, Tokyo in 1881, the printmaker Oda Kazuma made significant contributions to both the shin hanga and sosaku hanga movements. He first studied painting with Kawamura Kiyoo and learned lithography from Kaneko Masajiro. Oda's brother, a lithograph technician in Osaka, was also important to his early education. Throughout his life, Oda worked primarily as a lithographer, although occasionally he carved and printed his own woodblock prints. Oda's most notable lithographs include his series of twenty Tokyo scenes, Tokyo fukei hangashu, made in 1916-17, and a similar series on Osaka done in 1917-19.

Like many of his Japanese contemporaries, Oda was heavily influenced by the work of French printmakers such as Toulouse-Lautrec and Bonnard. Oda's prints emphasized movement and flow rather than the exacting delineation of color that was characteristic of ukiyo-e and Meiji-era Japanese prints. During the years 1909 to 1911, he was an active contributor to Hosun, an art magazine founded by sosaku hanga artists Ishii Hakutei and Yamamoto Kanae. He was also a founding member of the group Nihon Sosaku-Hanga Kyokai in 1918, and of Nihon Hanga Kyokai in 1931.

In 1924, Oda collaborated with the shin hanga publisher Watanabe Shozaburo on a small series of woodblock prints. These designs were primarily Japanese landscapes with a nostalgic feeling similar to work by Hiroshi Yoshida and Kawase Hasui, but in a more painterly style. Oda's print, Catching Whitebait at Nakaumi, Izumo, captures his original flowing brushstrokes in the reflections on the water and lacks the strict outline of a keyblock. Another of his prints, Daisen, Hoki in the Distance, is reminiscent of a sumi-e painting with its swirling lines and abstracted forms. These woodblock prints published by Watanabe were included in the 1930 Toledo exhibition on shin hanga.

Although Oda's work was more European in style, he was also passionate about ukiyo-e, particularly the work of Hokusai. He collected numerous manga (illustrated books) by Hokusai, and he also published several scholarly works on ukiyo-e, including Eighteen Studies of Ukiyo-e, and Ukiyo-e and the Art of Illustration (1931). Oda continued to work as a printmaker and painter during the 1930's and 1940's. He died of a heart attack in 1956.