Umetaro Azechi (Japanese 1902 - 1999) worked for a government printing office in the mid-1920s where he began to learn and experiment with prints. His early work was typical of the sosaku hanga (creative prints) movement, but it later developed as he traveled through the mountains of Japan.
His passion for mountains and the people of the area became the focus of his work. He was also a mountain climber himself and wrote some popular works on mountaineering. Azechi’s style is known for its simple design with rich storytelling and color. He was trained mostly by fellow printmaker, Unichi Hiratsuka and did not have a formal arts education.
He passed away in 1999 in Japan. His work is now in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, The British Museum, Boston Museum of Fine Arts and many others.
My roots are in the country, and I like simple rustic work...I respect Shiko Munakata’s approach, and I agree with him that Japanese artists imitate too much. In my own case I think my lack of training saves me from that kind of thing.