Lot 121

Fair Market Value $300

colour wood block on paper
signed, titled and numbered along bottom;

Noboru Sawai is undoubtedly one of the major voices in contemporary Canadian printmaking and a key proponent of post-modern direction in contemporary Canadian art. Sawai’s awareness of the cultural attitudes and values of western and Eastern cultures has given him a unique foundation from which to build his ideas. Born in 1931 in Takamatsu, Japan, Sawai eventually moved to the United States to study art. He received his BFA from Augsburg College in Minneapolis in 1966, followed by MFA from the University of Minnesota. He subsequently moved to Calgary where, from 1971 to 1993 worked as a Professor of Printmaking and Drawing at the University of Calgary, influencing many Canadian print artists of a younger generation. In 1981, Sawai established Sawai Atelier in Vancouver, a publishing house specializing in relief and intaglio printing. In his works, Sawai uses a combination of relief and intaglio, a most intriguing fusion of the Oriental coloured woodcut technique that brings together soft qualities with the more firm and linear Occidental copper etching process. He also blends the two cultures in his imagery, using Western masterpieces of art (Botticelli, Velazquez, Courbet, Picasso and others) or everyday scenes in his etchings, which he counterprints and counterpoints with erotic Eastern scenes taken from a variety of cultures (Japanese Shunga erotic images, ukiyo-e woodblock prints, Indian Hindu reliefs, Indian miniatures). Recently, Inuit iconography and mythology, which are printed using woodblocks and softer colouristic palette, have surfaced in his works. Since 1971, Sawai has participated in 33 solo exhibitions, 76 group shows and 91 adjudicated art competitions in Canada, the United States, Europe and Asia. His works are represented in several public and private print art collections in Canada and abroad. Noboru Sawai is a distinguished printmaker living in Vancouver.  His work has been widely exhibited nationally and internationally.  He has also had an active teaching career, for example, in 1971-1993 at the University of Calgary.  In 1981 he founded Atelier Sawai, a Vancouver printmaking centre specializing in the study and making of woodblock and intaglio prints.  Since 1971 Sawai’s imagery has been presented as montage referencing different eras and countries.  So, for instance, in one of his prints a Picassoesque figure, an Ukiyo-e print and a contemporary landscape appear side by side.  By juxtaposing traditional conceptions of holy and unholy, he confers relatively equal status upon them and thus invites a fresh purview.

Donated by an anonymous supporter of KOAC

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