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A mokuhanga exhibition took place in the Gallery of the Jan Matejko Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow, Poland, in 2019.
I have invited friends from the USA, Norway and Poland. The curator of the Gallery and me decided to organise the show of mokuhanga especially because mokuhanga is not well-known in Poland and only few Polish artists apply and teach this beautiful, traditional Japanese technique. From time to time, I invited artists from abroad to the Academy to lead workshops for my students. The handbook of April Vollmer was a great support in the matter. Washi paper, which is very essential for the mokuhanga technique, is almost unavailable in Poland. It can be ordered from abroad or in two special shops for restoration of paper art. The Manggha Museum of Japanese Art and Technology in Krakow has a huge collection of ukiyo-e, 4500 prints of Utamaro, Hiroshige, Hokusai and more, donated by Polish art collector Feliks Manggha Jasienski (1861-1929). This unique collection makes a great impression even on Japanese visitors. During the time when our mokuhanga show opened, the exhibition of the masters of ukiyo-e took place at the Manggha Museum and they decided to patronise our show too. I invited artists and printmakers Dr Elisabet Alsos Strand, professor Dariusz Kaca and Dr Tomasz Kawelczyk to come to the opening and make lectures about printmaking and this traditional Japanese technique. Two-day workshops for students were also organised.
During my studies, I met Norwegian artist Elisabet Alsos Strand, who was the first to teach me how to make mokuhanga. My three following visits to Japan had taught me more about paper and how important and precious it is for printmaking. At my residency in Mino Paper Village in 2001, I learnt how to make washi. Since then, as a printmaker, I have started dreaming about learning mokuhanga. I went back to Mino with two other artists who had the same residency after me. We wanted to honour the teachers and hosts with a big exhibition dedicated to Mino Paper Village. The ‘Washi no fushigi—The Mystery of Paper’ exhibition was also dedicated to the Polish Museum of Papermaking and the oldest paper mill (established in 1562) at Duszniki Zdrój. The works presented on this exhibition were paper objects made with pulp produced in Duszniki mill, linocuts made on Kozo paper (mokuhanga) and lanterns, light boxes made of cut paper. For me, light prints could be a conceptual idea which combines printmaking with Japanese taste and subtle and delicate light related to the traditional Japanese paper walls where shadows of leaves are dancing. A theatre of shadows and at the same time the concept of cut paper pictures—‘light printmaking’—is what I am thinking of.