The potential passing of the torch - maybe ???


The potential passing of the torch - maybe ???

In July last summer, en route home to Tokyo from a trip to Kazakhstan and Zurich I stopped in New York to see to family business. I have lived in Tokyo since 1955 wearing many different hats - first Military Service during the Korean War, then as a scholarship student at Todai, later in Diplomatic Service in Yokohama, Sapporo, Tokyo and Kyoto, and since 1977 as an art dealer who has become the largest publisher of contemporary Japanese graphic art which I have been selling around the globe from then.

July is not New York’s finest season and I was soon stifled by the unbearable heat. Then, in a sudden rush of feeling for my favorite (and only) grandson, I suddenly suggested that instead of hiding from the hot weather with a long and boring summer facing him at the tender age of sixteen, how about a visit to Tokyo? To my great delight his answer was immediate and quite positive. His memories of his Tokyo existence from 2007 - 2012 , ( 3 - 8 years old) when he lived here, were fresh in his mind and he was willing to take a chance with his grandfather’s interesting invitation.

There is a funny saying that guides us not to hope for anything too much because" if you are not careful you might even get it.” But fortunately, enough that tale of woe is not always true. What I had hoped for with Lucas has been brought to fruition to an extent that had not even entered my consciousness. I simply felt that spending a good amount of the summer without “a project,” the completion of which would indicate some progress in his life, would be a great waste of his time.

So here is what I did; I introduced Lucas to the wonderful world of prints of Takahashi Hiromitsu which are those vivid pieces showcasing exciting moments in Kabuki plays complete with fascinating costumes on actors striking unbelievable poses; they are called Kappazuri prints Lucas was not familiar with those prints — at the beginning. But, with an extraordinary amount of daily effort he expanded his knowledge to the point that his research of this, and his looking up of that , and his doggedly tracking down of any and all clues provided him with enough knowledge to actually make an amazing book all about those Kappazuri prints. My contributions were simply to explain that no one really knows much about these prints. My next contribution was to re-introduce Lucas to Takahashi Hiromitsu who has produced some 300 works for my gallery over the more than 30 years that we have known them. In addition, the last gift from his grandfather was allowing Lucas never-ending questions about minute details to be found in each of the various prints to be answered by my hard-working staff to help Lucas satisfy to his endless queries. All of my staff were patient and helpful and Shin Mochizuki of my staff worked as Lucas translator and deserves credit for his ceaseless and patient dealing with the answering of so many questions and coming up with the right answers.

Watching from my particular vantage point I had found that these interesting prints always excite the viewers even after their first viewing. But I have also noticed that the lack of background information about what is actually going on in each print tends to cause viewers to lose interest since they sometimes cannot fathom who is doing what to whom and why. This absence of general information sometimes causes even a would-be enthusiastic art lover to falter. However, there is no doubt in my mind that the readers of Lucas’ book will gain great pleasure viewing the three dozen prints covered in his book while they peruse the text compiled by Lucas.

As a proud grandfather, and with the help of a few of Lucas friends and fans, we are prepared to back the publication of my clever grandson's book, " The DyEing of Kappazuri" in which Lucas has nicely told the story of the prints with a clear explanation of the action of each one. He also gives information about how to make a kappazuri print and has also provided background information about the career of Takahashi Hiromitsu.

The exhibition of the book will be held on April 2-3-4-5 at Sogetsu Kaikan in their Tange Kenzo-built edifice and shown in the Isamu Noguchi rooms called “Heaven.” Viewing hours will be from 10 - 5. The prints contained in in the book," The DyEing Art of Kappazuri will all be for sale. Since the edition numbers of Hiromitsu’s work are small those interesting in certain prints shown in the book should plan to come early.