Onchi Koshiro(1891-1955) If one sosaku hanga artist is to be singled out as preeminent, not only within his own generation but within the entire history of the movement, that artist is Onchi Koshiro. Hiratsuka may have been more influential as a teacher and Munakata may have achieved as much fame abroad, but Onchi has come to represent the modern Japanese print in a way that neither of these men can, From his early days as a student at the Tokyo Art School, when he, Tanaka, and Fujimori began publishing Tsukubae, right up to the years just before his death, when he expanded the concept of block printing by incorporating all kinds of ephemeral objects into his images, he was invariably associated with the most innovative developments in sosaku hanga. A man of intense idealism and manifest freedom of spirit, he was looked up to as a leader by many of his fellow artists, and he devoted considerable energy and time to championing the cause of creative printmaking.
Onchi received a formal education in calligraphy and the Japanese and Chinese classics from his father, who was a tutor to the Imperial family His father wanted him to become a doctor, but Onchi was rebellious and chose to go into art instead. He was also rebellious as an art student, however, and was "invited" to leave school a year before graduating. Already by then he was totally committed to printmaking. After he married and had to support a family he began designing books — a field in which he achieved a considerable reputation — but prints still remained his first love.
Onchi's conscious orientation was consistently towards Europe (in spite of the fact that he never traveled outside the Far East), yet, as Oliver Statler has pointed out, his prints look more and more Japanese as the years goby.
Ref: Jenkins, Donald, "Images of a Changing world, Japanese Prints of the Twentieth Century" Portland Art Museum 1983-84 Exhibition catalog.Read More