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In the studio with Yoshida Ayomi

Image: Yoshida Ayomi in her Tokyo Studio, 2024, credit Mareo Suemasa. 

In View magazine chatted to Yoshida Ayomi about her new commission at the Gallery, her famous legacy and career.

[Extract from In View magazine, copies available from our Shop]

On 29 May 1900, 23-year-old Japanese artist Yoshida Hiroshi signed his name in the visitors’ book at Dulwich Picture Gallery. It is intriguing to imagine how he would have responded when told that in 120 years’ time, this same gallery would be exhibiting not only his work, but also that by two subsequent generations of his family, each of whom redefined the nature and future of Japanese printmaking.

The current member of this celebrated printmaking dynasty, Yoshida Ayomi, however did not at first consider becoming an artist. Both of her parents, Hodaka and Chizuko, her uncle Tōshi, and her grandparents, Hiroshi and Fujio, all made their mark on the traditional art form of woodblock printing, bringing in influences from outside Japan – from foreign subject matter to Abstract Expressionism.

Ayomi reveals that she:
first became aware that my family was a family of
printmakers when I began making prints myself after
graduating from university. Until then, I had never
thought about becoming a printmaker and had little
interest in art or my family’s work.” That said, some of
the family heritage did rub off, as Ayomi continues:
I may have naturally developed a sensitivity and
aesthetic sense, but when my first woodblock print,
which I created at the age of 23, won an award in
a competition, the response from people in the art
world, galleries, art magazines and other media was

Image: Yoshida Ayomi in her Tokyo Studio credit Mareo Suemasa. 

The reaction of the other artists in the family made her aware of the tradition of which she was part:

That my grandmother Fujio was so delighted about
this took me by surprise. The overall excitement made me
realise for the first time that I was the daughter of the
Yoshida family, a printmaking family. At that time, I
recognised that the Yoshida family was a very famous
family of printmakers.”...

If Ayomi was not daunted by the prospect of living up to such illustrious forebears when she first started, this changed as her career developed. She

Around the time I turned 30, the criticism I was
hearing from various parts of the art world, comparing
my work with that of my family, was enough to start
losing confidence. There was a time when I could no
longer create any art because I could not find my own
creative concept or identity that was different from that
of my family."...

She found her own distinctive means of expression in creating, in addition to prints, large sculptural works that allowed her to take up the mantle of her family history, while continuously innovating and developing her own art. Her experiments were influenced by the entire printing process.

Ayomi explains: “I considered
the wood shavings left from carving the woodblocks
to be part of the work and began making works by
pasting the shavings onto panels, which eventually
evolved into installations that were directly affixed to
the entire surface of the walls.”

Read the full piece in In View, on page 26.

Image: Yoshida Ayomi pictured in Cherry Blossom, 2024, the installation at Dulwich Picture Gallery.

Ayomi’s immersive installation, a new work created especially for Dulwich Picture Gallery, explores the recurring theme of seasonality in Japanese art and is inspired by the Cherry trees in Dulwich Village, originally taken from the iconic site of Yoshino in Japan, famous for its cherry blossom.

Yoshida: Three Generations of Japanese Printmaking is open until 3 November 2024).

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