Takeji Asano (1900-99) first gained acclaim as a landscape ukiyo-e woodblock print artist at the age of 31, when he completed his "New Urban Landscapes" series of Osaka and Kyoto views. Though he continued to use traditional techniques throughout his career, he also produced free-style woodcuts that became known for their simplicity and gentle humor.
In 1960, the American artist Ben Shahn, who had seen Asano's work at an exhibition, visited Asano at his studio. Impressed by what he saw, Shahn encouraged Asano to combine landscapes with freer work — advice that helped the printmaker establish his own unique style.
Having once said, "To be alive is to enjoy, and that is only possible through freedom," Asano created works that reflected his joy of life. (Yukari Tanaka)