Umetaro Azechi

Japanese , 1902 - 1999

A printmaker, Azechi was born in 1902 in Uwajima in Ehime prefecture on the island of Shikoku. He bought a course in art lessons by correspondance and in 1920, moved to Tokyo where he got a job delivering newspapers and continued the art course by correspondance. He returned to his birthplace for two years after a devastating earthquake hit Tokyo in 1923, but later returned to fulfill his dream of becoming an artist. He took a job with a government printing company where he began to experiment with engraving plates.

Azechi was later befriended by artist Unichi Hiratsuka, whose support gained him entrance to art exhibitions where he could meet other artists. Eventually he quit his job at the printing office and became a freelance artist. After the Pacific war, Azechi began to enjoy more success, participating in all three print biennales in Sao Paulo, Lugano and Tokyo.

Azechi's prints from the 1920's and 30's usually depicted landscapes, but after World War II, he developed his distinctive angular style, using bold colors, portraying mountains and mountain men. These are the subjects for which he is best-known. An accomplished mountaineer himself, Azechi maintained a vigorous lifestyle well into his nineties.
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