Inui, Tai

Saru Gallery
       Japanese Prints & Japanese Paintings

Biography Inui, Tai (1929 - )

Born in Hyogo on January 3rd 1929, Tai Inue was first undecided whether to become a sculptor or a woodblock print artist. He first gained recognition for his sculptures. He had been taught by Tadashi Nomura, a local craftsman, and already at 20, in 1949, he had his first exhibition at the Himeji Art Museum. In 1955 he was struck by Shikô Munakata's "In praise of flower hunting", a 132 x 158 cm woodblock print made from 14 blocks. He decided to turn his attention to woodblock prints, and like Munakata he has made a great number of large-size prints. In recent years he has also become known in the West, and in 2006 he had a one-man exhibition at a major Swiss Gallery (Bachmann Eckenstein, Basel).

1929 Born in Hyogo on January 3rd, as first son of Inui Tadashi 1943 First attempts as an artist, yet undetermined whether to become a craftsman or rather an artist. Inui Tai studies wood carving with No-mura Tadashi a local craftsman, as well as painting and calligraphy on his own. 1949 First exhibition at Himeji Art Museum. Re-ceived Himeji City Mayor's Prize and the Educational Committee's Prize five times in that and the following years for his sculptures. 1955 In the Japanese National Art Exhibtion in Kyoto (Nitten) Inui Tai is hit by ''The Flower Hunt" (Hanakari sho) a woodblock print by Munakata Shiko (1903-1975). Inui is determined to become an artist in woodblock printing. Since then: Large scale prints (up to screen format!), Landscapes and festivals. Exhibitions: 1974 Motomachi Gallery in Kobe - The Hyogo Prefectural Museum acquired the six-fold printed screen (Landscape of Murotsu, 1970) 1975 Exhibition: Himeji Art Museum 1976 Exhibition: Akatombo Gallery, Tatsuno 1981 Exhibition: Artist's house, Tatsuno 1982 Monthly covers for Kokuho Hyogo Magazine (Hyogo Prefecture, Health Insurance Union), April 1982 until March 1994 1987 Exhibition: Sanyo Gallery, Himeji 1989 Exhibition: Toraube Gallery, Himeji 1991 Commission: Landscape of Harima (Harima Taikan) for a School building 1992 Calendar for the Shinki Bus Company Exhibition: Himeji: Sanyo Gallery, Himeji 1993 Calendar for the Shinki Bus Company Woodblock for the Hirohata Library (Himeji), commissioned by Nippon Steel Corporation 2001 Calendar for the Shinki Bus Company Recent Awards: 2002 Cultural Citizen Award from Tatsuno City and Tomoshibi Award from Hyogo Prefecture.

At the end of Word War II, civil leaders replaced the militarists. They brought a new peaceful order, but had no respect for our tradition. Social atmosphere, environment and the scenic beauty of the country were regarded as worthless. The twin delusions that old equals bad while new equals good destroyed what had survived the fires of war. The tragedy of forgetting to cherish and the dis-carding of true things has continued ever since. I was born in 1929 and lived through this transition from childhood to young adulthood. In those years the firebugs, loaches, shrimp, eels and catfish disap-peared from the rivers. Our beautiful red pines had disappeared due to wartime needs for materials. The traditional simple farmhouses were remodeled and replaced. The many water driven mill wheels along the rivers and the rice-pounding sheds were seen as obstacles to people with modern ideas. I didn't know what to do but I felt that it was a shame to lose them! This situation ignited in my boyish heart the desire to collect the discards. But unlike sake bottles, houses and waterwheels are not easy to drag home. Yet, young as I was, I felt it was a matter of great urgency. How can I preserve them and clasp them to my heart? It was just after the war, and artist's materials and cameras were virtually unattainable, particularly for a poor country boy like me. It was then that I consid-ered carving these things I loved. I took a wooden board from the shed and the paper from our old warehouse. I took a simple brush, and I made a carving knife from an old file. My baren (i.e. tool to press the paper to the woodblock) was made from tightly wound twine. I had all I needed to start printing. And I had in mind what Lu Xun (1881-1936) once said: the pocket sized baren is the small-est and yet most powerful printing tool in the world, even poverty can not stop it. In 1955 I went to Kyoto to see the annual Exhibition of Fine Art. One particular piece shocked me like nothing ever before. Eulogy to Flower Hunting by Munakata Shiko (1903-1975). It contradicted all common sense on woodblock printing. Limitation to black ink on white paper, impressively large size (139.5 x 169.0 cm), raw cut: What a revelation! I have finally found a language to express what I have kept to myself for so long. My mind was filled with admiration for the past and my hart was filled with the desire to make it part of the present. I decided to become an artist and woodblock printer. I ran to lumber shop and bought some plywood. Solid wood was scarce and thus expensive. I bought a used six-panel folding screen and made my first large land-scape print. I was surrounded, submerged, and envel-oped by it. When I experienced the first festival, I was greatly impressed by its divine power. I added the festivals to my range of subjects and they soon became a major theme in my work along with landscapes. My wandering continues…

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