This black and white woodblock print depicts Samantabhadra, the bodhisattva of natural law.
About the artist
Born in Aomori prefecture, Shiko Munakata is a woodblock printing artist best known for his black and white prints and his expressive, sketch-like lines. A self-taught artist, he began his career in oil painting, organizing the Seikokai (Blue Light Group) and exhibiting at Hakujitsukai, Bunten and Teiten. Shiko Munakata changed course in 1926 upon seeing a woodblock print by Sumio Kawakami. After brief instruction from Un’ichi Hiratsuka in 1928, Munakata became an active woodblock printing artist in the printmaking community: he belonged to both Kokugakai (1932-1953) and Nihon Hanga Kyokai (1932-1938), and contributed to many sosaku hanga publications. Around 1936, he garnered the support of Soetsu Yamagai and other leaders of the folk art movement. Munakata’s work began to heavily feature Buddhist imagery the following year. During the bombing of Tokyo in 1945, he escaped to Toyama prefecture. He continued printmaking and received first prize in international exhibitions held in Lugano (1952), Sao Paulo (1955) and Venice (1956). Visiting the United States in 1959, Munakata spent a year exhibiting his work throughout the country. Horinji Temple in Kyoto bestowed him with the honorary rank of “Hokkyo” upon his return to Japan. In 1962, he received the rank of “Hogan” from Nisseki Temple in Toyama prefecture. Munakata’s accolades continued through the end of the decade, including the Medal of Honor (1963), the Asahi Shimbun culture prize (1965), and the Order of Cultural Merit (1970).
“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” - Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island