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Artist: Tsuruya Kōkei (弦屋光溪)

Alternate names:
Mitsui Gen (original name - 三井弦)

Lifetime: 1946

Related links: Artist's web site;

Biography:

In Merritt and Yamada it says:

"B. 1946 in Chigasaki, Kanagawa prefecture. Original name Mitsui Gen. Grandson of Nakazawa Hiromitsu [中沢弦光: 1874-1964]. Grad. Fuji Junior College. Began producing self-carved and self-printed kabuki actor prints in 1978. These were not favorably received at first, but thanks to the patronage and encouragement of Nagayama Takeomi, president of the Shōchiku Company which manages the Kabuki-za in Tokyo, Kōkei was able to continue making prints until he won public recognition. Makes about one print a month of an actor appearing at Kabuki-za; destroys each block after initial edition of fewer than 75 prints. All actor prints are sold at the Kabuki-za. Designs inspired by Sharaku but also highly individual and often humorous. All are printed on very thin ganpi paper. Subjects, other than actors, include flowers and a series on eight kinds of hell. Sometimes signs Kōkei in kanji with or without a seal; sometimes includes an additional seal indicating number of prints in the edition and writes the print's number over the seal."

Quoted from: Guide to Modern Japanese Woodblock Prints: 1900-1975, p. 159.

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He grew up in Suwa-cho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo. Kōkei's father, Mitsuji Fujikawa, a Western-style painter, died in 1970. In 1974 he got married.

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It should be noted that Merritt and Yamada give the kanji 敦屋光溪, but we have been unable to find this anywhere.