Friday, February 29, 2008


I'm guessing that
art history doesn't yet have a place for
the early 20th C. Japanese artists like

TOBARI Kogan (1882-1927)

because they're in a kind of nether world
between Europe and Japan,
and now, a hundred years later,
they have no place in either the history of modern art
or in Japanese traditional arts.

Tobari, in particular,
pursued a genre that feels like
a figurative variant on that rough
unfinished quality of Wabi Sabi

and maybe sometimes not so rough

and sometimes feeling like a Japanese variant of Rodin.

But often his pieces seem to be
like ceramic pots
that are morphing into figures.

(and this is such a fine portrait -- and pot !)

i.e. it's more about clay,
and less about flesh

And we also have graphic work from this artist,
like the above drawing
which I think is less crude
than it first appears

And he made woodblock prints !

In a style I've never quite seen before at the print galleries ...
something approaching magazine illustration.

He even published a "how to" book on the subject

What to make of these things ?

They're kind of down-scale
from the elegance of Japanese tradition,

more like

"what do women really look like "

rather than

"here is a fantasy paradise of beauty


It's too bad he died so young,
just like his teacher,

OGIWARA Morie (1879-1910).

Both of them traveled to France and America.
Ogiwara had met Rodin -- and he eventually encouraged
Tobari to switch from painting to sculpture.


Anonymous Amanda J. Sisk said...

Have you any more views of the crouching woman (her right hand merging with/disappearing into the material)?

February 29, 2008  
Blogger chris miller said...

Hi Amanda -- I wish I had more views -- and it does appear that her right hand has disappeared -- while the left looks like it might have been run over by a truck.

Which is fine with me!

My aesthetic is very similar to theirs -- though, hopefully, my pieces feel as American as theirs feel Japanese. (and hopefully I'll live a lot longer)

February 29, 2008  
Blogger Robert said...

This is more like it. Great post.

March 06, 2008  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

these are wonderful -- thank you.

i suppose they get thrown into the pot labeled 'shin hanga.' i mean there are westerners in that pot too.

and then i guess that those images, done by eastern or western artists, which have learned from or somehow incorporated the japanese prints, but don't show japanese subjects falls into 'japonisme.'

July 24, 2008  
Anonymous Artiseternal said...

I just love those wood cut prints!

October 30, 2009  
Blogger chris miller said...

I'm surprised that this guy has turned out to be so popular!

A new Japanese print gallery has opened in town --I'll ask about Tobari the next time I'm there.

October 30, 2009  

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