Hisashi Otsuka: Past and Present
"Hisashi Otsuka: Past and Present." Off the Easel Magazine. Fall 2012: 12-13.
Great artists build on the masters and traditions that come before them. The idea of the pupil surpassing the teacher has long been one of the bars by which great art is measured, and world-renowned artist Hisashi Otsuka has been building on the work of great artists and artistic traditions his entire career.
Born in Japan, Otsuka came to the United States in 1975 with a strong desire to explore new subject matter and merge eastern and western culture within his art. Otsuka trained with one of Japan’s foremost kimono designers, Taeko Jo, and along with more traditional Japanese genres, his precision painting with kimono ink on silk led to a style called “neo-deco.”
Beginning in the 1980’s, Otsuka’s work became extremely popular with celebrities including Sophia Loren, Dolly Parton, Burt Reynolds, Brooke Shields, and Tina Turner, as well as with many other notable collectors. From 1987-1991, Otsuka was also the official poster artist for the New York Art Expo, the world’s largest art fair.
Adhering to rigorous self-discipline, Otsuka lives by the Bushido Code of duty, discipline, and a dedication to perfecting his art. Still, while rooted in tradition, Otsuka believes the artist must maintain a fierce independence and aesthetic sensitivity to create at the highest spiritual level. Otsuka’s latest work is a powerful collection building on the art of tattoo.
Japan has a rich history of tattoo for both spiritual and decorative purposes. Tattooing became recognized as an art form when it was used to communicate social status during the “ukiyo-e” or floating world culture. As with all his work, Otsuka’s tattoo paintings are executed with a deep respect for the past. Using nothing but a graphite pencil and cotton ball, he creates layers of figurative and graphic elements in which past and present, East and West, and the beauty of the human form and kimono design merge in creative harmony. An undisputed master, Otsuka uses color, perspective, abstraction, and negative space to portray and resolve the tensions of an artist both building on and breaking from the traditions of his origin.
Otsuka’s unique paintings inevitably move us toward a greater appreciation of artistic tradition, while at the same time urging us to explore the present. Otsuka is continually forging his own aesthetic path and as he sets the bar higher and higher, we the patrons are the greatest beneficiaries.
Hisashi Otsuka: Legends in Art
"Hisashi Otsuka: Legends in Art." Off the Easel Magazine. Winter 2011: 7.
Arguably one of the finest artists of our time, Hisashi Otsuka’s art has spanned almost five decades!
Originally from Japan, Otsuka came to the USA seeking opportunities for artistic freedom which was denied to him by Japanese tradition. Otsuka was trained under “The Bushido Code,” which specifies training in all the arts and sciences, even for the Samurai. This code determines that the technique of the art form is taught only after the student has learned service, duty and discipline.
Starting out as an apprentice at age 12 in war-torn Japan, Otsuka performed menial tasks as a servant and didn’t actually start painting until three years later. At 15, Otsuka was finally allowed to paint a single stroke, but through the process of waiting and learning, he was able to master the required patience and dedication essential to his art.
The fascination of his art is found in the execution of his painting, with the unforgiving medium of kimono inks on a silk-like fabric, along with the subject matter of Japanese history and the beauty of nature. In Otsuka, we find hyper-detailed compositions with beautiful kimono designs, flowing hair, bright colors, movement and grace. And as we enjoy Otsuka’s individual and unique paintings, they move us gradually and inevitably to a greater appreciation and understanding of the artist himself.
In the 1980s, Hisashi Otsuka’s name was synonymous with art. He was the chosen artist to represent the New York Art Expo for three years in a row, creating a different poster each year to commemorate the show. Otsuka’s art has toured through numerous cities and countries and to this day, he has thousands of collectors worldwide. His works have been collected by Sophia Loren, Brooke Shields, Dolly Parton and Tina Turner— along with countless numbers of dignitaries and political figures worldwide.
EC Galleries is proud to have been an official art dealer for Otsuka’s art since the conception of the first gallery in 1995. “He is one of the great art legends in our collection of artists,” says EC’s co-owner Ruth-Ann Thorn. “Not only is he a fantastic artist, but he is also our dear friend! We found it appropriate to start the New Year by introducing and reacquainting Mr. Otsuka to our collectors and friends.”
Otsuka will be unveiling a new series of original landscape paintings from his travels to Europe, Hawaii and Japan. He will be lecturing throughout each day as he presents the new work, and the gallery will display a retrospective of fine art limited edition prints from many decades of Otsuka’s art career. Be sure to save the dates: January 1–2, 2011. Don’t miss the opportunity to meet this remarkable art legend!
Hisashi Otsuka: Windows to Serenity
"Hisashi Otsuka: Windows to Serenity." Off the Easel Magazine. Summer 2011: 9.
Hisashi Otsuka’s name in the art world has always been synonymous with precision. His complex and tedious method of creating works on silk have been admired and collected by art lovers throughout the world for more than four decades. Otsuka’s latest series of paintings, “Windows to Serenity,” can be described most accurately by the Japanese word “shubui,” which defines the type of beauty that doesn’t need announcement – its quality speaks for itself. Shubui involves the maturity, complexity, history and patina which only time can bring, like a fine vintage wine. Shibui objects have a history – they speak of an understated elegance, utility, rare beauty and unobtrusive sophistication.
Otsuka’s landscape series embodies all that reflects shubui. From the rich countrysides of Japan and France, to the bamboo forests and quiet waterscapes, his art is sometimes mistaken for photography because of the intricate level of detail. The artist’s flawless landscapes appear to be simple overall but they include subtle details, such as hints of color that balance simplicity with complexity.
Otsuka’s masterful balance of these elements within his work continually evolves, causing the viewer to find new meanings and enriched beauty with each glance, allowing for the aesthetic value of each piece to grow over the years.
Join us as we welcome Otsuka’s masterful new collection to our galleries this July. There will be original paintings and fine art limited editions unveiled by the master artist himself. Otsuka’s art allows for rich serenity to influence our lives, and we hope to share that richness with you.