Kogan TOBARI

Born 1882 in Tokyo, Tobari left for the United States in 1901 at the age of 20. While working to pay his expenses, Tobari also enrolled at the Art Students League to take classes in painting. He met the sculptor Rokuzan Ogiwara, equally based in New York at that time, but in 1906 returned to Japan for health reasons. In 1910, he was taking care of Ogiwara at his deathbed, and later enrolled for the sculpture class at Taihei School of Western Painting, aiming to establish himself as an artistic successor to Ogiwara. In 1919, Tobari and the painter Kanae Yamamoto founded the Sosaku Hanga Association. Tobari created masterpieces such as “Senju Ohashi Bridge in the Rain, ”In Front of the Cabinet,” or “Balancing on a Ball.” He died in 1927, aged 46.

Personally, I have always found the sculpture “Spark of Jealousy” a particularly striking work, which I saw for the first time about 30 years ago in a small solo exhibition of Tobari’s works. The pioneering Tobari passed away early and his remaining prints probably number less than ten. Very rare as they are, each of them still is a highlight in the history of Japanese printmaking. We used to own all the remaining printing blocks left by Tobari (they are now in the collection of the Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art). It is a pity that Tobari’s legacy nowadays is almost forgotten. It is about time an anthology of his works would finally be published.

 

◆ Kogan Tobari: "Sosaku Hanga and How to Make Prints"
1922
Hangasha
21.5x13.5cm
Condition: Some yellowing of the pages, stains, damage to the joint, some handwriting inside the book
Included print:

"Balancing on a Ball"

Woodblock print

 

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Exhibitions (Japanese only)
2007
140th Gallery exhibition: Japanese Style: Small Works, Feb. 2-Feb. 10

1995
7th Gallery exhibition: Sosaku Hanga: Kogan Tobari, Kanae Yamamoto, Yumeji Takehisa, Koshiro Onchi, Junzo Kon, Yasunori Taninaka and others, Dec. 8-Dec. 17