The 6th Tokyo International Mini-Print Triennial 2018|多摩美術大学

This is the sixth edition of the Tokyo International Mini-Print Triennial. While many of the international printmaking competition/exhibitions held in various places in Japan at one time have been disappearing one after another, we are proud that this one, while mini-sized and organized by a single art university, has lasted through various trials. The constraint of small-sized pictures, in that everything in them is condensed, may actually bring out the unique charm of printmaking to maximum effect.This time we received numerous submissions – 1,733 from abroad and 194 from Japan – a testament to the degree of ambition this Triennial arouses in printmakers. Their small-sized creations conveyed not only the diversity of artists’ personalities and techniques, but also the richness of each one’s cultural climate, rooted in different historical contexts, and were highly inspiring to the jury.In the first screening, works by 324 artists (269 from overseas, 55 from Japan) from 81 countries were selected from among entries submitted in data form, and 19 prizewinners were selected in the second screening, in which their actual works were viewed.The Grand-Prix went to At the Bed 1801, by Jihye LIM (South Korea), a female figure precisely rendered using the technique of mezzotint, and is a static composition with intriguingly mysterious imagery. It makes a powerful impact with the kind of resonant poetry that only a monochromatic work can convey. I am highly impressed by the unique vision of the artist, which imbues a robust, monumental-looking figure with an air of humor as well as a creeping sense of dread.Angelina TSOUMANI (Greece) won the Semi Grand-Prix for Fabric, a work combining copperplate techniques (etching, aquatint, engraving) and linocut, and stands in contrast to the Grand-Prix work with a rougher style that exudes charming nuances. It is also worth noting the unique effect achieved by the inspired juxtaposition of the dress’s rhythmic pattern and the improvised body painting on both arms.The Without You Scenery by Erika SUGIYAMA (Japan), also a Semi Grand-Prix winner, is a woodcut that compellingly captures detail and gradation in a way only woodcuts can, with a pale overall palette and subtle changes in tone. The solitary figure leaning against a fence is simplified, like a silhouette, inviting various possible interpretations. What are the symbolic-looking shapes, like the inverted U-shaped black line in front of the arm, or the white circle above? The charm of the allegorical atmosphere is made even stronger by the ambiguity of all the imagery.In addition to the Grand-Prix and Semi Grand-Prix winners, at the exhibition venue we are sure to see an enormously fertile range of printmaking expression by artists who fully invested their talents in the mini-print format. At the risk of preaching to the choir, in closing let me share my views on printmaking. In printmaking, an artist produces a plate, but the plate is only part of a process, and not a work in and of itself. The artist’s vision is fulfilled through the process of transferring ink from the plate to the paper. That procedure, which is also physical and mysterious, creates a world unique to prints and unlike any other genre. It is the nature of printmaking for the material properties of paper and ink to take on an intimate character before our eyes, and if this is so, the format of the mini-print, which forces us to look even more closely at details, does not actually confine or constrain, but rather heightens the vividness of the mysterious communion of plate and paper. It is only natural that mini-prints are a primary area of endeavor for many printmakers. I hope that this competition and exhibition will be, in its modest way and through the postal service, a hub for international exchange, as well as an opportunity to savor the singular pleasures of the world of mini-prints.Tama Art University President and art criticTatehata AkiraComment on the Exhibition05

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