Depicting soft colours meshed together with hues of white, Dr Shahida Mansoor’s exhibition on Japanese woodblock printing is truly a delight for art enthusiasts.
The exhibition, which opened at Comsats Institute of Information Technology (CIIT) on Friday, represents the Japanese cultural heritage.
The artist has the honour of being the first Pakistani to receive a doctorate degree in Japanese woodblock printing from Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music.
During her seven-year stay in Japan, Mansoor moved away from her prior forte of landscape painting and chose to master the art of woodblock printing.
The Japanese printmaking technique is somewhat different from the European style as it uses water-based paints instead of oil colours, she said. Also, a disk is used instead of a roller to rub the woodblocks and sheets together to create images.
The wood is carved with Japanese tools and painted over. The paint is then transferred onto a handmade paper by pressing the paper and woodblocks together with maximum pressure and a disk is used to rub the paper and blocks to ensure maximum paint is absorbed.
“I wanted to move away from oil-based paintings. This is more unpredictable as you can never be fully certain what the final product is going to look like,” said the artist.
One of her large artwork was the particular focus of attention. She said she wanted her work to be encompassed on large pieces, so she decided to combine the sheets together. “I worked on each sheet with woodblocks and brought them together to create large pieces,” she explained.
Her work, with streaks of soft-coloured paint, carries much significance for the artist herself.
“My work is about me, my experiences and my surroundings and since I’m working with wood there has to be a level of unpredictability because wood has a mind of its own,” said the artist as she explained one of her pieces titled “Paths of Light” which, according to her, symbolises her take on path.
Mansoor was also quick to point out the similarities between Muslim miniature art and Japanese woodblock prints.
From the use of handmade paper to having a team of artists working together on a piece using water-based colours, the woodblock prints were initially created in small frames to be viewed in albums and books, similar to miniatures.
“Though both art techniques have evolved over the years, it’s interesting how the process is so similar yet the end result completely different,” said Amna Hashmi, a miniature artist and a faculty member of CIIT.
Appreciating Mansoor’s work, Japanese Ambassador Hiroshi Oe, who inaugurated the exhibition, said she has completely mastered the skill of woodblock printing which is an indigenous form of Japanese art.
The exhibition will remain open for 10 days.
Published In The Express Tribune, June 16th, 2012.