david hockney about shinro ohtake

Introduction to Exhibition Catalogue
Gallery Watari Dec. 13 - Dec. 28 1982

I met Shinro through my mother who lives in Bradford, England, about 200 miles north of London. Shinro had noticed an address in a section of my book on my own work, in a letter dated 1952. He had taken the train from London, found the house, and knocked on the door. My mother explained I hadn`t lived there for many years and, inviting him into the house, enquired where he was from. Shinro, in his halting English, had said Tokyo, and my mother thought he said "York", about 35 miles from Bradford. As the truth came out and Shinro explained, he had come up from London. My parents invited him to stay the night as the last train back to London had left.

My parents were charmed by Shinro (and he by them) and I eventually heard of his adventures from my mother who told me I should meet him.

A few months later we met in London (I had been in the U.S.A. at the time of Shinro`s trip to Bradford) and I too was charmed by him.

Conversation at first was difficult, but over the years Shinro`s English improved (and my Japanese is not existant), and we have had interesting conversations.

His work has a livelyness and curiosity about European Art that is refrehing but I explained to him how European art had been influenced by the Japanese wood cut, so his curiosity and influence has a respectable history.

I told Shinro of my own admiration for the contemporary artists of japan who work in the traditional stayle. Unknown in Europe I had only seen their work on my visit to Japan in 1971. Shinro very kindly sends me books about their work, so an East West dialogue goes on.

That a Japanese artist should travel to Europe and be influenced by it in a lively way is a repeat of the nineteenth century European`s travels to Japan (ie, by seeing the art) and being absorbed by it, so Shinro`s art is both untraditional in a Japanese sense, and yet traditional in a wider sense of art`s universal language.

David Hockney

9 November, 1982


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