The Layered History of Japanese Printmaking, Distilled in an Emerald Tapestry

Taiko Chandler, “On and On #18” (2018), oil monoprint with stencils (image courtesy the artist)

DENVER — A striking tapestry ripples and swells from the gallery wall to illuminate layers of emerald, indigo, and violet hues that appear poised to spill on the floor and engulf the viewer. If Katsushika Hokusai had focused his subject on swirling tide pools instead of “The Great Wave,” it may have felt something like Taiko Chandler‘s “Blue Surge” (2021) in her solo show The Indelible Garden at the Denver Botanic Gardens. Chandler has previously referenced Hokusai’s iconic waves in her series One By One (2021), in which watery claws were achieved with dressmaker pins hammered into the weighted base of a traffic cone. But Hokusai was a ukiyo-e artist and Chandler’s abstractions, textures, and colors are an extension of Japan’s extraordinary printmakers from the 1950s and ’60s that were championed by artists of the Sōsaku-hanga (creative prints) movement. Unlike traditional printmaking models, these 20th-century printmakers acknowledged the individuality and labor of artists — an eloquent example for Chandler who confessed only art, not her home in the United States or her Japanese birthplace, gives her a sense of belonging.

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