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Born to poor farmers in Uwajima in the far-flung Ehime prefecture of Shikoku, Umetaro Azechi came from a humble background. Securing a job at a government printing company in Tokyo he soon developed a deep curiosity in the art of printmaking. Pursuing his newfound curiosity and passion, Azechi introduced himself to Unichi Hiratsuka, an established artist of the time, and became a member of the Sozaku Hanga print movement. Overtime he gained access to exhibitions, met other artists, and honed his own skills, eventually participating in major print biennales in Sao Paulo, Tokyo and Lugano. An avid mountaineer, Azechi is most famous for his mountain scenes, which can now be found in the Achenbach Foundation in San Francisco, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts or The British Museum in London.
An artist should use freely whatever materials he pleases. In the case of the woodblock print, he simply goes one step further and employs a block instead of a brush... - Watanabe Shozaburo, 1916