HAMANISHI Katsunori exhibition

2021.02.20(Sat) - 2021.03.09 (Tue)

Hamanishi Katsunori was first brought to my attention by a very special person named Joe Dillon. Since this happened a long time ago I cannot remember our first meeting, but each and every meeting with Mr. Dillon who is now very nicely pushing 100 (!) has always brought me happiness, joy, knowledge and fun.  There are only a few people  I can say that about, but Joe Dillon, as I said above, is very special. With wonderful coincidence the Dillons' summer home is close to my own little house on Cape Cod. I have had the pleasure of Joe’s company for a very long time.

Having become a good client buying all sorts of prints, one day Joe suddenly suggested to me that I should try selling the works of an artist named Hamanishi whose work had impressed him greatly. I impudently - heh heh I thought - have finally caught Mr. Dillon, who never seemed to get anything wrong - in a mistake. Certainly he must mean Hamaguchi Yozo, I thought. At that time I usually liked to discover things by myself and have to admit that I was a bit annoyed to be pointed to Mr. Dillon’s Hamaguchi Yozo, a very well known and very expensive artist, who was well beyond my means and my clients' interest. Well good on him and wrong for me. He did not mean Hamaguchi…he meant Hamanishi.

When we straightened it out and realized that Hamaguchi and Hamanishi were two different people, I still wondered about the artist Hamanishi Katsunori, who at that time made the most simple looking prints that I thought I could never sell. But Joe Dillon encouraged me repeatedly and I didn’t seem to respond. Finally it came to the point of him saying that if I had some then he would buy some. Well guess what - though feeling slightly guilty of striking off with an artist whose work I didn’t quite get, I started as Joe Dillon advised me. To flash forward and tell you that we are among the top dealers of Hamanishi is mean, but I don’t want to keep my readers guessing all of the time and have to offer my gratitude to Joe Dillon for all his friendly persuasion. Thank you very much Joe!!!

Mr. Dillon was working in Tokyo, and worked for a big company, Bell Labs, I think, and I can’t remember what he did but something only a smart guy could handle. But I do remember that he and his first wife Lee, always seemed to be able to buy any print that they wanted and got involved to the point that when they moved back to Morristown, New Jersey they became dealers for the Tolman Collection. Both of them were immediately entered in my “Favorite People” category where Joe still has a prominent position. During their years of print dealing Japanese prints became well known in their area.

The appeal of Hamanishi’s prints is obvious. He has reached a new level of perfection (so taken for granted in virtually all levels of Japanese  printmakers) in a difficult method. His subjects - twigs. branches, wires, and ropes - are presented in a three dimensional form on paper. They are not photographs; each image has been painstakingly burnished on a plate, raising the viewers' expectations to a higher level than usual, expectations that are fully met. He loves shapes, their interlinkings, their details - all of which he slowly and deliberately reveals in his unparalleled, meticulous mezzotints. In recent years he has begun to add a bright touch of red or blue as a contrapuntal note to his detailed compositions, and these sudden bursts of color point up even more the dazzling brilliance of his creative imagery.

And of course by now you have guessed that I am now one of the biggest fans and greatest backers of Hamanishi Katsunori whose work has swept the world and is included in so many major collections everywhere. In our stable of fine artists I am proud to reveal that this same Hamanishi Katsunori has joined. Shinoda Toko, Mori Yoshitoshi, and Daniel Kelly  whose works are included in the Metropolitan Museum in New York. This is an outstanding accomplishment that sets our gallery apart from other fine galleries who have their own outstanding talented artists to talk about.

Thinking of interesting events in the past I remember one time when my wife, Mary and our older daughter, Allison and our gallery director  Daisuke were in Washington D.C. at the end of a selling tour in the USA. Suddenly during our lunch, Allison informed us that on that very evening at the Worcester Museum of Art in Massachusetts, Hamanishi-san would be  giving a lecture on how he created his prints  during the opening of his exhibition.  Everyone who knows me is aware that I am a creature of spontaneity and so you won’t be surprised to read that I swept everyone off their feet and we rushed to the airport and flew directly to Boston arriving at the Worcester Museum just minutes after Hamanishi-san had begun his evening lecture. Recognizing the four excited guests Hamanishi-san kindly introduced us to the audience and to my surprise he did it all in English! When it was my turn to respond to his generous introduction I had to say that although I knew that Hamanishi-san could make prints better than anyone else I did not know that he spoke English and spoke it well enough to give a lecture on such a complicated subject. When this became the topic of conversation the artist said that he never thought of speaking English to me since I seemed to be able to handle Japanese well enough. Our mutually courteous conversation made the exhibition so special in the ears of all those who attended the exhibition and our relationship between our gallery and Hamanishi-san and his wife is still going strong today.

Now that we have come to the point where international travel is so fraught with complications, I remember fondly such nostalgic events with hopes that the situation will turn again so that we can all travel everywhere. I have visited more than 80 countries during my long life as an art dealer and have tons of friends and clients everywhere and I am eager to rush off to Kazakhstan and Zurich and Amsterdam but know that we all have to wait. I am particularly grateful to the advanced system of being able to telephone all around the world at little cost and am very happy that my clients are able to continue building their own collections with the guidance that I am able to offer. This week I have spoken to friends in Boston, in Berlin, in the Congo and in Astana, so I try to tell myself I am not missing that much.

I appreciate greatly the praise that you have all given me for the short articles that I have been writing to keep your collection lively. I feel that when my clients know more about the artist and his style the prints that he has made somehow look different. As long as I keep getting mail about the pieces I will continue to answer your questions about the art and the artists who we are backing during these troubled times.

Please feel free to write to me and ask anything you would like to know about the prints…you already know everything about me.

Norman Tolman










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