'Snowstorm' by Ito Shinsui

For my A levels i am using this as one of my artist studies that guide to me create my final piece. My school makes us write essays on each of the artist, heres mine.

It will help any of you using the artist to understand what the work is about and the ideas and effects of composition, colour and materials. This particular one is on Ito shinsui who did janpanese woodblock prints and i am looking at one of his prints called 'Snowstorm'

Comment back on the it! Thank you :)

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Ito Shinsui did a limited edition woodblock print called `Snowstorm' in 1932 in courtesy of
the Verne collection. In Shinsui's early years he went through an art movement called
Shin-hanga which means `new prints' was an art movement in early 20th century Japan. This
was when the artist engages in the artistic expression by involving himself in all stages of the
printmaking process by collaborating with carvers, printers and publishers in print production.
He then later got into Bijin-ga which was beautiful prints of women, during the early 20th
century women began to be more independent by taking jobs instead of being limited to
domestic and family roles. However Shin-hanga artists ignored these new social changes and
continued to design prints of women in passive, dreamy poses and old-fashioned
attire. Ito Shinsui did both landscape and binjin-ga prints, but in later years of his life, he
concentrated on painting and was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun in 1970.
`Snowstorm' has a solid structure; the striking figure is the heart of attraction of the
print. The woman overlaps the umbrella behind her giving a somewhat scale change as well
as the umbrella continuing to go out of frame displaying a sense of depth and distance
between the two main forms. The low viewpoint and straight lines of the umbrella leads
the viewer's eyes to the figure as she looks down towards the same direction of the lines
which I think gives a sense of admiration, beauty and reserve towards the women. The
negative space in the background adds interest as it strongly emphasises on the women in
the foreground and can also evoke emotions.
Shinsui used light complimentary colours such as the dusty orange and grey blue cloth to
make the objects stand out. There is an enormous tonal difference between the black hair
and maroon cloth in contrast to the rest of the print inviting the dark pallet of colours to
stand out. The maroon colour can propose romance, outrageous passion and
imagination. `Snowstorm' has a balance of warm and cold colours giving it calm and
soothing appearance. The cold palette gives the print a spacious presence, whereas the
warm palette gives a sense of warmth and confidence.
The woodblock print was made from colour and ink on paper. Ito Shinsui's first woodblock
print `Before the mirror' which depicts a young women wearing a deep red kimono
under-robe, looking off into an unseen mirror. Usual in contemporary prints harsh aniline
red is commonly used however in this print Ito used natural vegetable dye, overprinting
the robe several time to achieve a rich crimson colour. Special care was especially taken with
the speckled grey texture background and white skin. There are light expressive marks
made in `Snowstorm' in the background as Shinsui gave a snowing effect and there are
visible marks given to show the separation of the two different shades of orange in the
umbrella and folds in the clothing.
I choose this print as I was attracted to the way folds in the clothing are presented, Shinsui
did not use tone yet used single colours and lines to show where the folds took place. I
also enjoyed the level of light obtained in the print as it provided a dreamy presence.


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