Master Grafika: The Satoru Itazu Workshop
The Satoru Itazu residency, workshop and exhibition at the DELL Gallery
@ Queensland College of Art, Griifith University (14th October to 19th November 2006).
To coincide with the 2006 Year of Exchange between Australia and Japan, and as a prelude to the Asia-Pacific Triennial, the Queensland College of Art, Griffith University and DELL Gallery @ QCA hosted an exhibition of lithographic works created at Itazu Litho-Grafik, the workshop of Master Printmaker Satoru Itazu.
Anne Kirker in her catalogue essay aptly described Japanese master printmaker Satoru Itazufs print shop as a unique "boutique" operation. Since returning from the renowned Tamarind lithographic training school in 1986 Satoru has spent his working life collaborating and printing with artists from Japan, Australia and various other countries. He chooses his artists carefully, publishing and promoting their imagery through his modest studio facility in which he concentrates solely on aluminium plate lithography. His workshop and home are located on the outskirts of Tokyo between the suburbs of Chofu and Kichijoji. His guests and artists are treated to the customary Japanese hospitality surrounded by the cultural style of contemporary suburban Tokyo. Impressive restaurants, parks, temples, and bathhouses are all within walking distance of his home.
Satoru often selects artists whose work is unconventional in both style and concept. He ediscoversf artists in places such as the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music (Geidei), the Tokyo overseas artistsf residencies and off beat exhibition venues in and around Tokyo. Many of these artists have never drawn a lithographic image. In a calm and good natured way Satoru encourages their tentative moves without influencing their individual approaches.
This exhibition provided a unique introduction into contemporary Japanese art practice. However, in keeping with the spirit of the 2006 Year of exchange, the exhibition also included lithographs made with six Australian artists included Michael Barnett, Paul Saint, Charles Anderson, Joan Grounds, Narelle Jubelin and Linda Dennis.
Outstanding in Satorufs collaborations with high profile Japanese artists is O Jun. Initially in his first lithographs O Jun was obsessed with making a visual statement about an obscure Japanese jet plane Shusui (1996) that crashed on its maiden test run at the end of World War 11. His collaborative ventures with Satoru over the years brought forth greater challenges including an ambitious wall-size colour lithograph consisting of twelve full sheets of paper tiled together to make up the work titled Three Blinks & Sunshine. This work is based on a Japanese myth that involves a prophecy that if a certain goddess blinks three times the end of the world will ensue.
Another remarkable collaboration involved the artist Kumi Machida . With great dexterity and patience she has created the most exquisite line lithograph entitled A girl (2003). This workfs simple yet controlled line
seems to encapsulate an exquisite Japanese poetic form. A similar linear approach is evident in Haruka Kudoufs haruka kashi 284 (2006) in which there appears to be an erotic tension between the contorted forms. This graphic directness also characterised the work of Yoichi Miyajima. Ecological issues are humorously summarized by chimneystacks spewing pollution or slaughtered mutton as seen in the work untitled (pig#1) (2001). In Japan, a tattooed person is prohibited entry into a contemporary bathhouse. The two colour lithograph of Kousagiuguisu Youna untitled (tattoo) (2002) depicts the astonishment from bathers viewing the tattooed person disobeying this law. This is all portrayed in the strange visual fusion of cartoon captions and a tattoo style image.
Staff, students and participants very much appreciated Satorufs generous contribution to the teaching process in the print department at the Queensland College of Art. The infusion of unique technical expertise can provide a boost to a tertiary printmaking curriculum. As well as revitalising the plate lithography section in our department, Satoru also successfully introduced a shellac substitute for the toxic lacquer base so often used for stabilizing an image when printing large editions. Satorufs unwavering dedication and generous nature resulted in at least twenty-five
student lithographs in his four week workshop at QCA. These works were all exhibited in the DELL gallery in the final week of the exhibition. Importantly each of the collaborating student/artists gained the technical and collaborative experience of working with this professional master printer.
During this project Satoru also collaborated with one of QCAfs postgraduate students; Dennis Nona who has recently completed his Masters in Visual Art majoring in printmaking. Dennis works primarily in the relief and intaglio print media and it was a liberating experience for him to be able to utilise the tusche washes in lithography. Satoru introduced him to a number of fluid drawing techniques that finally resulted in a successful large scale lithograph. The narrative of this work referred to the Japanese pearl divers that worked in the Torres Strait Islands and played a part in the unique culture and history of this region.
The talents of master printer Satoru Itazu have enabled Japanese and Australian artists to realise their art through the lithographic medium in a diverse range of styles and themes. Audiences were privileged to view an impressive collection of Satorufs collaborative works for the first time in Australia. This exhibition and workshop project would not have come to fruition without the efforts of the Director of the DELL gallery, Simon Wright and his curatorial team and the valued sponsorship of the Japan Foundation.
This exhibition is testimony to a master craftsmanfs lifelong ambition of assisting artists to realise their work in the demanding and beautiful lithographic print tradition. It is with sincere appreciation that we welcomed such a varied collection of limited edition prints.
Russell Craig/Senior Lecturer in Fine Art
Queensland College of Art