The son of a nihonga (Japanese-style) painter, Rikio Takahashi was born in Tokyo in 1917. He studied woodblock printing with Koshiro Onchi and was an original member of the sosaku hanga or “creative print” movement. Takahashi worked with Onchi from 1949 until his teacher’s death in 1955. He was a member of Nihon Hanga Kyokai (joined 1952), Kokugakai and the Graphic Art Club. He has exhibited his work in international competitions and exhibitions. During the 1960s, Takahashi spent two years in California. He believed that art was primarily a form of self-expression. Creating a unique style, he pioneered unorthodox printing techniques to make largely abstract works with distinct tonality. Kyoto’s gardens served as inspiration for much of his work, feeding into his fluid, abstract style. Each design is self-carved and printed, true to the spirit of his teacher Onchi.
Like many sosaku hanga artists in postwar Japan, Takahashi strayed from traditional cherrywood. Katsura wood became popular amongst sosaku hanga artists for it allowed larger blocks and was more affordable than cherry. By 1930, it became the standard wood used by sosaku hanga artists. With a light grain, artists could engage with surface texture or achieve unmarred smoothness. Takahashi worked largely with shina-faced (veneered) plywood, another readily available and affordable wood.
“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” - Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island