Senpan Maekawa Biography

Maekawa Sempan (1888-1960) Maekawa was one of those whose eyes were opened to the expressive possibilities of the woodcut medium when he saw the work of Minami Kunzo. He had barely ar-rived in Tokyo from his native Kyoto when he happened to see Minami's landmark 1911 exhibition. It made an impression on him that he never forgot, though it was not until eight years later that he attempted a woodcut of his own. By then the Nippon Sosaku Hanga K/oka; had been formed, and he entered the print in the Society's first exhibition held in 1919. In the years that followed, he became one of the stalwarts ofthesosaku hanga movement. Like most other artists of his generation, however he was unable to sup-port himself by printmaking. Fortunately, he became quite successful as a cartoonist, a profession that allowed him plenty of time to work with prints on the side.  
There is something very engaging about Maekawa's prints. They have some of the simple, unaffected quality of folk art objects. His figures, especially his sturdy apple-cheeked peasant figures, are particularly delightful.  
 
Ref: Jenkins, Donald,  "Images of a Changing world, Japanese Prints of the Twentieth Century" Portland Art Museum 1983-84 Exhibition catalog.  
 
Maekawa Senpan 1888-1960. B. Kyoto. Original name Ishida Shigezaburo; took the name Maekawa from a relative on his mother's side after father's death in 1905. In 1905 entered Kansai Bijutsuin; studied with Asai Chu and then with Kanokogi Takeshiro. Went to Tokyo in 1911;began drawing cartoons for Tokyo Puck CTokyo pakku) in 1912. Influenced by 1911exhibition of Minami Kunzo's prints, began making moku-hanga. Exhibited with Nihon Sosaku-Hanga Kyokai from 1919; member from 1924. He continued to make a living as a cartoonist, traveling all over the country to sketch local people and customs. Made a reputation in early Showa as the creator of Hasty Bear (Awatemono no Kumasan), a series of comics in the Yomiuri shinbun Sunday edition about a clumsy bear. Exhibited prints at Teiten in 1927, 1928, 1931 and Shun'yokai in 1929, 1931, 1935. Founding member, regular exhibitor, and stalwart supporter of Nihon Hanga Kyokai 1931-1960. Member of Gendai Manga Kyokai. Contributed to Han geijutsu, Chokokuto, Kasuri, Bakuchiku, Dessan, Shiro to kuro, HANGA, Kaze, and Jissen hanga. Also exhibited at Shin Bunten in 1937, 1938, 1942, 1944, at Sao Paulo in 1953, at Tokyo Biennale in 1957. Made his living as hanga artist from 1953. Due to controversy over membership in more than one  
hanga organization, withdrew from Nihon Hanga Kyokai shortly before his death in 1960. Briefly a member of Nippankai. His affectionate depictions of Japanese manners and customs are in many single prints and albums including a series of 5vols. of Hot Spring Notes (Yo/cusen fu), 1944-1959, and Leisure Time Leisure Books (Kanchu kanbon), 1945-1960. Usually signed his prints with one or more of the kanji for his name but also used the first three letters of Senpan.  
 
Excerpted from Helen Merrit, Guide to Modern Japanese Woodblock Prints: 1900-1975