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Bill Paden

Artist’s Statement The Hanga Woodcut

In the mid 60’s, I happened to find myself in Kyoto, Japan, where, by chance and good fortune, I was introduced to HANGA, the Japanese Technique Woodcut Printmaking by Clifton Karhu. And without stopping I have been at it ever since because the technique gives me the basis to express a wide range of ideas and effects, besides being temperamentally rewarding.

Most of the prints in this show use modern HANGA techniques that have evolved from the traditional Ukiyoe techniques that in themselves evolved over the 17th and 18th C. – from the early black and white prints (sumizuri-e) to the multiple color brocade prints (nishiki-e). They are cut on 3/8″ Shina plywood blocks, using a number of traditional cutting tools – the world’s best – plus an etching needle. Paper registration notches (Kento) are cut on each block so all the color areas line up as designed.

Printing is on the finest Japanese paper (washi) by a handheld printing tool (baren) – not an etching press, using water based color, gouache, etc. – not oils as in the West. All the features mentioned above are important, but the key to Ukiyoe and HANGA greatness is the washi, without which everything else is more or less meaningless. Good paper facilitates easy printing and luminous color.

History/techno – talk is only half of what art is all about. The mastery of craft is of use if the art has content, a message and the mastery of formal problems. My prints speak for themselves, off the wall.

Dusk, Bill Payden, 1970-1990
Photograph by Mike MosallPaden
Stone Forest, Bill Payden, 1970-1990
Photograph by Mike Mosall
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