Our first experiment with Brian Williams and Joel Stewart in our new Archives series and the pieces with which they once wowed the art-loving community proved to be a great place to get started. In today's "Mr. Tolman’s Archive II,” I want to bring to everyone’s attention lovely, shimmering prints of a Kyoto high school teacher who found time now and then - when he had corrected his students' papers - to make prints that were always highly successful. Sugiura Kazutoshi had devoted so many years to high school teaching that even at the height of his popularity it was not possible to move him from his school time schedule to make an exhibition for him. But, I soon discovered to sell his work, all it took was an announcement that "new Sugiuras are out” and very quickly they would sell out and then there would be no more.
At that time I can clearly remember selecting those silkscreen prints and putting a few away figuring that some day, when maybe he would no longer be making those little treasures, people might remember them and want to buy a pretty little flower in gold for a Mother’s Day gift, or a small present for a friend, and we would still have a few of Sugiuras' prints to show. If you are looking for that, Sugiura may be your man.
Age-old subjects and age-old techniques never lose their appeal. You can roam the world and be fairly certain of never meeting anyone who admits hating flowers. Sugiura Kazutoshi (b.1938) has been inspired by flowers for years, and he has an enthusiastic audience who appreciates every interpretation he makes of irises, peonies, roses, cosmos, camellias, chrysanthemums, or spider lilies. His beautiful silkscreens never need water, never droop, never lose their luster, and seem to exist simply to provide perpetual enjoyment. Although the artist depicts all of the flowers mentioned above, he is noted for his compositions of irises and has made more than one hundred different iris prints.
Sugiura relies on traditional Japanese techniques to execute his works. He applies squares of gold leaf, in the same way old screens were made, onto handmade Japanese paper. His next step is to silkscreen his floral subjects onto the gold leaf. Next, blocking out the flowers, he uses a wash of pale shades of blue, purple, or green to cover the rest of the work, thereby toning down the glittering gold leaf and softening the effect. The result is visually relaxing, soothing even the most active type-A personality. The artist studied fine art restoration at the Kyoto National Museum for four years, an experience that has undoubtedly influenced his meticulously executed creations.
Sugiura, now 82, makes his prints as the spirit moves him. His limited production ensures that each eagerly anticipated work is a sellout, an example of the law of supply and demand at work. The prints have been lovingly and skillfully made, and the traditional themes and method result in works highly prized by numerous collectors. You should note the date on each of the prints that we have shown: they range from works made from 1984 - 2016.