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Gihachiro Okuyama

(1907-1981)

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Gihachiro Okuyama was an extremely prolific Japanese print artist who worked in a variety of different styles. He began his career in the late 1920s designing woodblock prints for commercial purposes. His work included posters and advertisements for the Japan Wool Company and Nikka Whiskey. In 1931, Okuyama founded the Tokyo Advertisement Art Association, whose name was later changed to Tokyo Advertising Creator's Club (Tokyo Kokoku Sakka Kurabu). Okuyama's interests were not limited to the commercial aspects of printmaking. From 1923 to 1933, he studied with Ishii Kendo, learning about the traditions of Japanese printmaking and ukiyo-e. In 1932, he was one of many artists who contributed to the print series "One Hundred Views of Great Tokyo" (Dai Tokyo hyakkei), published by Nihon Fukei Hangakai.

Sometime early in his career, Okuyama's prints were published by the Kyoto Hanga-in. In 1946 he established a publishing firm called the Japan Print Institute, which published his woodblock prints along with reproductions of ukiyo-e artists. In 1954, Okuyama established his own publishing studio called the Okuyama Hanga Kobo, where he would design and publish his own landscape prints. During the late 1950's, Okuyama made a series of woodblock prints based on well-known European paintings, several of which were by Vincent Van Gogh. These prints were signed by Okuyama in English.

Like the woodblock prints of his contemporary, Shiro Kasamatsu, Okuyama's work ranges from traditional idealized shin hanga to rough, self-published designs with a more abstract quality. Okuyama is estimated to have produced more than 1000 prints in his lifetime, only a few of which are displayed on this website.