This exhibition celebrates the remarkable artistic career of Naoko Matsubara, a distinguished Japanese print artist based in Canada. 40 joyful woodcuts created over six decades demonstrate the remarkable innovation and variety of her work. Inspired by nature, place, literature, music and dance, her prints range from intimate to monumental, playful to contemplative, figurative to abstract. Yet all her work is characterised by a strong sense of spontaneity and a bold freedom of expression. Matsubara carves directly into the woodblock to create her images, bringing a powerful energy to her works.
This is the latest in a series of exhibitions introducing the Ashmolean’s Japanese print collections to the general public. ‘Lifelines’ aims to promote understanding of this longstanding and constantly evolving Japanese traditional art form by highlighting a leading contemporary international artist whose dynamic work pushes the boundaries of the woodblock medium. In 2018 Naoko Matsubara generously donated 100 of her works to the Ashmolean Museum and ‘Lifelines’ acknowledges this extraordinary gift. The gift transforms our holdings of contemporary Japanese prints – a collection begun in 1961 with a donation of 40 important print works from the Japanese Government to commemorate the establishment of the Ashmolean’s Eastern Art Department.