Hideo Hagiwara portrays beautiful abstract artwork

Exhibit displays Japanese woodblock prints


Fair use from Minneapolis Institute of Art. This is a woodblock print using ink and color called The Sky is Aflame by Hagiwara Hideo.

Elena Ortiz-Fishman

Displayed at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, Hideo Hagiwara’s works express powerful modern statements.

When viewing “Abstract Prints by Hagiwara Hideo,” I was impressed by his use of style, color and imagery. Throughout his years as a painter, Hagiwara has been a pioneer in developing new tools for his unique woodblock prints, made with ink and color. What I found fascinating with this exhibit was Hagiwara’s process as a painter. Not wanting to be limited by traditional styles, Hagiwara strived to constantly improve his prints by implementing technique, color and fluid motion.

This well-put-together exhibit covers a large portion of Hagiwara’s works in a neat and chronological fashion, accompanied by informational videos showing more insight on the individual processes behind the art. I learned how Hagiwara uses driftwood as printing blocks, and how he even developed a new printing technique. For some of his works, Hagiwara carefully applied paint to the front and back of paper, intending the ink to bleed through. This way, Hagiwara presented a unique approach to traditional wood prints. 

Looking more closely at his works, I noticed how Hagiwara used a mix of vivid and muted colors, distinctively topped by stark black lines and geometric shapes. As I walked through the exhibit, I could clearly see Hagiwara’s growth as an artist, and was struck by his creativity and unusual works of art. Later in his life, he became more focused on creating a modern view of Mount Fuji, one of his most renowned works in which he included landscape prints depicting the mountain through varying seasons and conditions. His “Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji” series is displayed artfully, each portrait highlighted by strong perspective and depth. 

At the exhibit, one of my favorite works was Circus No. 1, characterized by Hagiwara’s peculiar use of color and shape, the yellow spirals perpetuated a feeling of motion. Made in 1968, this work is an example of when Hagiwara began developing a suggestion of people within his works. I enjoy how this piece is open to interpretation, abstract curved lines implying the presence of trapezes and bikes.

His dedication and persistence used to evolve his art in order to reach the highest standard and to convey new ideas, translated into his beautiful works. In my mind, his determination sets him apart from other artists and what is truly inspiring to me. 

Overall, I would definitely recommend others go and visit this exhibit. Spanning from nebulous interpretations of space to even soil, I was never bored. Throughout it all, Hagariwara exemplifies his hard work and precision through ambiguous use of space and color.” 

“Abstract Prints by Hagiwara Hideo”: ★★★★★