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Azechi, Umetaro (1902-1999)

Born in 1902 in Ehime prefecture in Shikoku, Umetaro Azechi studied painting by correspondence course. In 1920 he moved to Tokyo only to be forced to return home after the 1923 earthquake. He returned to Tokyo in 1925 where he worked in a government printing office. While there, he began making prints by scratching out designs on lead plates, inking them and using a teacup as a baren. Urged by Un-ichi Hiratsuka to exhibit with the Nihon Sosaku-Hanga Kyokai (Japan Creative Print Association), Azechi caught the eye of and was encouraged by Onchi, Koshiro and Maekawa Senpan. He exhibited widely and contributed to numerous publications. His prints from the 20's and 30's depicted landscapes, but after World War II he developed his distinctive angular style using bold colors, usually portraying mountains and mountain men, subjects for which he is best known. An accomplished mountaineer, who is well known in Japan for his writings about the mountains, Azechi maintained a vigorous lifestyle well into his 90's. He passed away in the Spring of 1999.

Umetaro Azechi works have been exhibited in Sao Paulo, Lugano and Tokyo Biennials and are in the collections of museums worldwide, including: The British Museum, Boston Museum of Fine Arts and Cincinnati Art Museum.