Maki Haku and the Poetry of Form

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    Maki Haku (1924–2000). 'Kaki 90 (Persimmon).' Japan, 1990. Woodblock print; ink and color on paper with embossing. Gift of James and Mari Imai, 2005 (28178).

August 24, 2017 - October 22, 2017
Honolulu Museum of Art

Exhibition Overview

Born in Ibaraki Prefecture, Maejima Tadaaki, also known as Maki Haku (1924–2000), was one of the most internationally prominent members of the Creative Print (sōsaku hanga) movement, which emphasized the need for Japanese print artists to create their own works without relying upon specialists such as woodblock carvers, as designers of ukiyo-e prints traditionally did throughout the Edo period (1615–1868).

During the Pacific War (1941–1945), Maejima was enlisted in the Japanese Air Force as a kamikaze pilot, but the war ended before he was assigned a suicide mission. In the late 1950s, he began to produce prints and assumed the pseudonym Maki Haku (literally, “white roll,” with connotations similar to “airhead”) to promote himself as an eccentric artist who lacked academic training.

Maki Haku’s embossed compositions, featuring either a stylized Chinese character or a quintessentially Japanese symbol such as a persimmon, caught the attention of art patrons throughout the world, including the Honolulu-based author Oliver Statler (1915–2002). In 1967, Maki represented Japan in the Venice Biennale. See the evolution of his style in this selection of works from throughout his career.

Made possible by the Robert F. Lange Foundation.