NEW YORK, NY.- Scholten Japanese Art
in New York launched an online only exhibition, In the Abstract: A Collection of Haku Maki Prints for their annual summer show in an updated viewing room format. The Haku Maki abstract prints are from a collection of modern and contemporary works that were found in the Estate of Haruno Tsuruoka (1924-2017), the daughter-in-law of the Japanese-American artist Tokutaro 'Kakunen' Tsuruoka, whose paintings from his time in a WWII internment camp Scholten presented in the (sold-out) March 2019 exhibition, Captive Artist: Watercolors by Kakunen Tsuruoka (1892-1977). Haku Maki (1924-2000) was a woodblock print artist whose abstract compositions were achieved by developing an unusual mixed media printing technique utilizing cement relief with deep embossing.
Born Maejima Tadaaki in Ibaraki prefecture in 1924, Maki relocated a great deal within his lifetime, moving to Kanagawa, Shizuoka, and Tokyo. After WWII he graduated from Ibaraki Teacher's College in 1945 and took the role of Vice Principal at an elementary school. He was a participant of the printmaking group, Ichimoku-kai (First Thursday [or wood] Society), which had been founded in 1946 by the influential sosaku hanga ('creative print') artist Onchi Koshiro (1891-1955). There were never more than 20 members in the group which included contemporaries such as Toko Shinoda (b. 1913), and the informal gatherings ceased around 1950. Not long after, he chose the name Haku Maki (lit. 'white roll') at some point in the early 1950's. In 1954, Maki married Takako Umeno, who along with his sister-in-law, became his primary assistant. Maki's mixed media printing technique used cement relief attached to carved woodblocks or cardboard and deep embossing printed on double-layered paper. His compositions are primarily derived from abstractions of pottery shapes or kanji and old texts in various calligraphy styles. He participated in the first and second Tokyo International biennales in 1957 and 1960, and other international exhibitions. In 1962 a Maki calligraphic print was selected by a committee of art experts from the United States and Japan to be included in Michener's monumental and lavish folio featuring 10 tipped-in original sosaku hanga prints, The Modern Japanese Print: An Appreciation, which was issued in a limited edition of 475. In 1969 his international reputation was further enhanced by his illustrations for Festive Wine, a book of ancient Japanese poems published by John Weatherhill, Inc. Haku Maki's work is found in numerous Western museums including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Honolulu Academy of Arts, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
The Maki prints are a part of a larger collection of art that was assembled by the Tsuruoka family who relocated to New York City after the war where they established the Daruma Frame Shop and Gallery on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. The shop was a local institution where Kakunens son, Shotaro Tsuruoka, and his wife, Haruno (who he met in the camp in Poston, Arizona), displayed a keen interest in modern and contemporary print and supported local artists, as well as Japanese, and Japanese-American artists.