Yasuyuki Kihara Biography

Yasuyuki Kihara




Very little is found in the U.S. on the extraordinary printmaker Yasuyuki Kihara, whose work shows the influence of Atelier 17, Surrealism, and a complex, nearly architectural geometry. Born on June 14, 1932, on the island prefecture of Hokkaido in Nayoro, Japan, he enrolled in the Musachino Art University where graduated with a degree in Western Painting in 1954. His early style was greatly inspired by the work of Utrillo, especially his views of Paris, and Kihara focused on the rural architectural elements of suburban Tokyo, earning various awards from competitions in school and elsewhere. In the early 1960s he entered his works into the British International Print Bienniale, the Krakow International Print Biennalle, and the Contemporary France Print Exhibition.

After marrying and starting a family, he worked for several years as a graphic designer and illustrator, as well as a jewelry maker in collaboration with his wife, artist Chika, to make ends meet. In the early 1970, still inspired by the Parisian works of Utrillo, he decided to live in Paris for one year, entrusting their two children with Chika and her parents. Kihara enrolled in in printmaking classes at the famed experimental printmaking workshop of Stanley William Hayter, Atelier 17. This would prove to be a pivotal time for the artist, who became fully immersed in intaglio printmaking and abstraction, and soon decided to remain in Paris for a while longer. This decision was extended indefinitely, with Kihara eventually choosing to become a permanent resident.

In the mid-1970s he left the workshop and focused entirely on burin engraving and developed the style he would become known for: precise, complex, nearly surrealist imagery. Beginning in 1971 he regularly entered his work into the annual New York International Miniature Print Exhibition, and in 1980 he participated in the Japanese Prints Exhibition at the Tochigi Prefectural Museum of Art. In 2000 he was made a member of the Society of French Painter-Engravers, only the second Japanese artist to be honored with this induction, and in 2003 he was given a retrospective at a museum in Hokkaido.

Yasuyuki Kihara died in Paris on April 24, 2011 (Daniel Morane, Society of French Painter-Engravers, "Yasuyuki Kihara (1932-2011)", Print News, 2011, ppg. 92-93).

His work is held in the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, Japan; the Museum of Modern Art, Kamakura & Hayama, Japan; Minneapolis Museum of Art, MN; Lowe Art Museum, University of Miami, FL.