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Carver: Kitamura Shoichi (北村昇一)

Alternate names:
Kitamura Mokuhanga 北村木版画

Lifetime: after 1980

Related links: Kitamura Woodblock Studio on Facebook;

Biography: Kitamura-san is a master carver based in Kyoto who carves woodblocks for artists in Japan and around the world.

Shoichi Kitamura graduated from the mokuhanga course at Kyoto Seika University. He studied under Osamu Horita, a carver. He has since participated in Nagasawa Art Park as an instructor. He has also participated in a mokuhanga project at Singapore Tyler Print Institute and collaborated with local artists in Melbourne. He opened his own mokuhanga studio in Yamashina, Kyoto, and collaborated with Australian artists. He is a member of the Kyoto Mokuhanga Craftsman Association as well as Vice Branch Chief of the Ukiyo-e Mokuhanga Carving and Printing Preservation Association.

Kitamura-san started mokuhanga by teaching himself, learning by doing, doing and failing for five years, until eventually he started an apprenticeship at the Gado publishing company under master carver Osamu Hotta-san.

The key to perfect the craft he says is by experiencing and understanding the materials and the tools you work with. He would look at prints of old masters to understand their carving techniques, reading the prints on paper to understand the methods of printing and consequently the method of carving in wood. He has become an accomplished printer as well as carver solely he learned the printing process in order to develop his carving techniques.

His expertise is the result of observation and practice, a tactile engagement with the materials, observing the character of the knife’s steel, the quality of wood, the fiber of the paper used for printing, the paper’s dampness during the printing process, and the character of the layers of color applied. Handling the material properly requires hard practice taking a full sensory assessment of all materials involved in the process, carving as well as printing.

Kitamura-san is a member of Kyoto Woodblock Printmaking Association and a vice-chair of Kyoto branch of the Ukiyo-e Woodblock Printmaking Association of Technical Preservation. He is available for collaboration with both Japanese and international artists and designers.