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uncle editor
Aug 31, 2023

Ryohei Yanagihara principle ~RyoheIZM~09

Ryohei Yanagihara principle ~RyoheIZM~09

uncle editor

Aug 31, 2023

The Magic of Papercutting

The Magic of Papercutting

With the original painting in front of me, moving closer and further away

With the original painting in front of me, moving closer and further away

Recently, I had the chance to see another original work by Yanagihara. It was a paper-cut work with the title "Michelangelo in the Port of Naples" written inside the painting, which is unusual.


Under the clear skies of Naples, the famous ship Michelangelo floating in the calm harbor is so elegant, and I can feel the leisurely flow of time, which somehow makes me feel strangely relieved. The ship is drawn in more detail than the surrounding buildings, but the difference is not so extreme, and yet the ship stands out as the "main character," which is partly due to the composition, but also to its shape and color scheme.

Recently, I had the chance to see another original work by Yanagihara. It was a paper-cut work with the title "Michelangelo in the Port of Naples" written inside the painting, which is unusual.


Under the clear skies of Naples, the famous ship Michelangelo floating in the calm harbor is so elegant, and I can feel the leisurely flow of time, which somehow makes me feel strangely relieved. The ship is drawn in more detail than the surrounding buildings, but the difference is not so extreme, and yet the ship stands out as the "main character," which is partly due to the composition, but also to its shape and color scheme.

Its shape, its color scheme

The softly curved silhouette of a ship standing against the linear, geometric Gothic buildings in the background draws the eye. It makes sense why ships are treated as feminine nouns.


The same goes for the colors. The vivid blue of the sky and sea, the green of the mountains, and the varying shades of color on the walls of the buildings, along with the pure white ship in front of it, give the place an air of purity and dignity, almost divine.

Paper cutting is said to be more prone to deterioration than oil paintings, but this painting, created in 1972, has good coloring and suggests that it has been fairly well preserved.

The genre of paper cutting

Its shape, its color scheme

That's the picture, but what I want to talk about today is the beauty of paper cutting. Paper cutting is a work of art made by cutting colored paper and pasting it on a mount. The paper cutting genre is well established, and there are artists who specialize in paper cutting.


But Yanagihara's style is a little different from that of other paper cutting artists. Usually, works called paper cutting are beautiful in their own way, for example, black paper is minutely cut to create a lace-like pattern, or cut paper is pasted together in layers to create a three-dimensional effect, but there are not many works that involve cutting paper with a brush or pen.


Yanagihara's works are freely drawn with black and white pen on the pasted paper, which is the decisive factor in completing the work. Therefore, although Yanagihara uses the paper cutting technique, he is not a pure paper cutting artist, but uses the paper cutting technique to express a unique effect that can only be expressed by using it.

The softly curved silhouette of a ship standing against the linear, geometric Gothic buildings in the background draws the eye. It makes sense why ships are treated as feminine nouns.


The same goes for the colors. The vivid blue of the sky and sea, the green of the mountains, and the varying shades of color on the walls of the buildings, along with the pure white ship in front of it, give the place an air of purity and dignity, almost divine.

Paper cutting is said to be more prone to deterioration than oil paintings, but this painting, created in 1972, has good coloring and suggests that it has been fairly well preserved.

The genre of paper cutting

That's the picture, but what I want to talk about today is the beauty of paper cutting. Paper cutting is a work of art made by cutting colored paper and pasting it on a mount. The paper cutting genre is well established, and there are artists who specialize in paper cutting.


But Yanagihara's style is a little different from that of other paper cutting artists. Usually, works called paper cutting are beautiful in their own way, for example, black paper is minutely cut to create a lace-like pattern, or cut paper is pasted together in layers to create a three-dimensional effect, but there are not many works that involve cutting paper with a brush or pen.


Yanagihara's works are freely drawn with black and white pen on the pasted paper, which is the decisive factor in completing the work. Therefore, although Yanagihara uses the paper cutting technique, he is not a pure paper cutting artist, but uses the paper cutting technique to express a unique effect that can only be expressed by using it.

Yanagihara's unique paper cutting

The unique effect is that the boundaries between colors are sharp. It's frustrating to be unable to describe it well, but many people are fascinated by Yanagihara's unique paper cuttings. His eldest son, Ryota, who was the head of the art club in high school, told me the following story.


"In the case of oil painting, colors are layered, but in paper cutting, the pieces are cut with a razor blade and then pasted down, so the boundaries between the colors are very sharp. I think that kind of thing is very unique, including the use of colors."


Ryota also says that among his father's works, he likes the paper cuttings and lithographs.

Yanagihara's unique paper cutting

The unique effect is that the boundaries between colors are sharp. It's frustrating to be unable to describe it well, but many people are fascinated by Yanagihara's unique paper cuttings. His eldest son, Ryota, who was the head of the art club in high school, told me the following story.


"In the case of oil painting, colors are layered, but in paper cutting, the pieces are cut with a razor blade and then pasted down, so the boundaries between the colors are very sharp. I think that kind of thing is very unique, including the use of colors."

Ryota also says that among his father's works, he likes the paper cuttings and lithographs.

Cut paper expresses nuance

In addition, Mr. Shizawa, former director of the Yokohama Port Museum, who is very familiar with Yanagihara's work, will explain it from a different angle.


"I cut with a single-edged razor, which means I can't cut it in detail. I have to omit it and cut it to the bare minimum. But because I cut it with a razor, I can express the beauty of the lines and a certain coldness, which ultimately creates a flat look. Or, depending on the color and quality of the paper, it can create a sense of volume."

A sense of color and beautiful shapes

Professor Okabe, an emeritus professor at Teikyo University, explained the subject from a professional perspective, citing other authors as examples.


"The colors are like a fairy tale. I think there is something in common with the paintings of Yasuji Hanamori (1911-1978), the first editor-in-chief of Kurashi no Techo and the artist of its cover. This sense of color was probably influenced by Felice Lizzi Rix-Ueno (1893-1967: a designer active in Vienna and Kyoto), who Yanagihara studied with during his time at art school. Paper cuttings also have beauty in their shapes. The lines and surfaces have an interesting sharpness to them. The same can be said for the famous paper cutting series "Jazz" by Henri Matisse (1869-1954: French painter). Although it is the lines, it is the beauty of the form that is the focus. Well, in Yanagihara's case, the beauty of the form is probably connected to the aesthetics of ships."


By the way, Henri Matisse said that the advantage of paper cutting is that you don't need to draw lines and fill them in, but you can draw with color right away. I was impressed by how well he put it: "You can draw with color right away."

The power of original artwork

Seeing the original drawings up close this time, I was once again overwhelmed by the intricacy of the work. Ariake's president, Horikoshi, also spoke of his surprise when he first saw the original drawings.


"I was moved when I saw the paper cutting. I thought, 'Wow, something like this is possible!' Our company has a philosophy of 'creating inspiration,' and that was a truly moving moment for me."

If we look closely, we can see that the colored paper used in the paper cuttings is not smooth, but has been selected with a fine embossed pattern, and Yanagihara makes good use of this uneven surface.


Generally, it is used to create vertical grain, but depending on the part, it is used horizontally. The slight unevenness on the surface changes the shadow slightly depending on the viewing angle, so the color change will also be different if you apply it from different angles.

On top of that, the ship is made of paper that is not embossed, so the ship stands out even in terms of the difference in paper quality.

A genius's composition

In fact, I didn't notice something until a while ago. The same paper was used for the sky and the sea. In other words, the entire work is composed of one large sheet of blue paper, with the upper part left blank (in this case, blue?) to represent the sky, and the lower part left blank (in this case, blue?) to represent the sea. Perhaps I perceived a difference in the shade of the same blue above and below because there were lines drawn with a white pen on the sea. Or was it just an illusion? Either way, at first, I just saw the sky and the sea as two separate things.


Yanagihara decided, "Yes, this blue can be used for both the sky and the sea, so I'll put a boat in the middle to separate the top and bottom," and started working on this piece. Am I the only one who thinks this sense is unusual?


Yanagihara's paper cuttings are often interesting, with elaborate uses of the color and quality of the paper. Shizawa's words, "It's the paper cuttings that make Yanagihara Ryohei, and they're unique," remain in my mind. (Continued in the next issue)

Cut paper expresses nuance

In addition, Mr. Shizawa, former director of the Yokohama Port Museum, who is very familiar with Yanagihara's work, will explain it from a different angle.


"I cut with a single-edged razor, which means I can't cut it in detail. I have to omit it and cut it to the bare minimum. But because I cut it with a razor, I can express the beauty of the lines and a certain coldness, which ultimately creates a flat look. Or, depending on the color and quality of the paper, it can create a sense of volume."

A sense of color and beautiful shapes

Professor Okabe, an emeritus professor at Teikyo University, explained the subject from a professional perspective, citing other authors as examples.


"The colors are like a fairy tale. I think there is something in common with the paintings of Yasuji Hanamori (1911-1978), the first editor-in-chief of Kurashi no Techo and the artist of its cover. This sense of color was probably influenced by Felice Lizzi Rix-Ueno (1893-1967: a designer active in Vienna and Kyoto), who Yanagihara studied with during his time at art school. Paper cuttings also have beauty in their shapes. The lines and surfaces have an interesting sharpness to them. The same can be said for the famous paper cutting series "Jazz" by Henri Matisse (1869-1954: French painter). Although it is the lines, it is the beauty of the form that is the focus. Well, in Yanagihara's case, the beauty of the form is probably connected to the aesthetics of ships."


By the way, Henri Matisse said that the advantage of paper cutting is that you don't need to draw lines and fill them in, but you can draw with color right away. I was impressed by how well he put it: "You can draw with color right away."

The power of original artwork

Seeing the original drawings up close this time, I was once again overwhelmed by the intricacy of the work. Ariake's president, Horikoshi, also spoke of his surprise when he first saw the original drawings.


"I was moved when I saw the paper cutting. I thought, 'Wow, something like this is possible!' Our company has a philosophy of 'creating inspiration,' and that was a truly moving moment for me."

If we look closely, we can see that the colored paper used in the paper cuttings is not smooth, but has been selected with a fine embossed pattern, and Yanagihara makes good use of this uneven surface.

Generally, it is used to create vertical grain, but depending on the part, it is used horizontally. The slight unevenness on the surface changes the shadow slightly depending on the viewing angle, so the color change will also be different if you apply it from different angles.


On top of that, the ship is made of paper that is not embossed, so the ship stands out even in terms of the difference in paper quality.

A genius's composition

In fact, I didn't notice something until a while ago. The same paper was used for the sky and the sea. In other words, the entire work is composed of one large sheet of blue paper, with the upper part left blank (in this case, blue?) to represent the sky, and the lower part left blank (in this case, blue?) to represent the sea. Perhaps I perceived a difference in the shade of the same blue above and below because there were lines drawn with a white pen on the sea. Or was it just an illusion? Either way, at first, I just saw the sky and the sea as two separate things.


Yanagihara decided, "Yes, this blue can be used for both the sky and the sea, so I'll put a boat in the middle to separate the top and bottom," and started working on this piece. Am I the only one who thinks this sense is unusual?


Yanagihara's paper cuttings are often interesting, with elaborate uses of the color and quality of the paper. Shizawa's words, "It's the paper cuttings that make Yanagihara Ryohei, and they're unique," remain in my mind. (Continued in the next issue)

uncle editor

People in Royalty Bank. After working for a publishing company, he became independent and wrote articles for magazines and the web. Fascinated by the splendor of Ryohei Yanagihara's works, he began writing this column.

*Editor's note
The expression ``Fune-Kichi'' expresses the nuance of ``an unusual ship enthusiast.'' This expression is often used by Ryohei Yanagihara in his books, mainly towards himself, but there is no sense of any discrimination or contempt in it. Therefore, in this column, I purposely use the word ``funekichi'' without replacing it with other words.   

Ryohei Yanagihara

Born in Tokyo in 1931. In 1954, he joined Kotobukiya (now Suntory Holdings). He produced many popular advertisements one after another and won many awards, including the Dentsu Award and the Mainichi Industrial Design Award, before retiring and going independent. He loved ships and ports and moved to Yokohama. In addition to being a painter, he is a graphic designer, book designer, picture book author, animator, and writer. Passed away on August 2015, 8 at the age of 17.

uncle editor

People in Royalty Bank. After working for a publishing company, he became independent and wrote articles for magazines and the web. Fascinated by the splendor of Ryohei Yanagihara's works, he began writing this column.

*Editor's note
The expression ``Fune-Kichi'' expresses the nuance of ``an unusual ship enthusiast.'' This expression is often used by Ryohei Yanagihara in his books, mainly towards himself, but there is no sense of any discrimination or contempt in it. Therefore, in this column, I purposely use the word ``funekichi'' without replacing it with other words.   

References
・"Picture Diary of a Boat Trip" (Tokuma Bunko)

People who cooperated

● Ryota Yanagihara (Ryota Yanagihara) Born in April 1961 in Tokyo, the eldest son of father Ryohei and mother Kaoru. When he was 4 years old he moved to Yokohama and spent his childhood in Yokohama. In 3, he joined the Bank of Japan. He retired from the Bank of Japan in 1985 and is currently working at a logistics company. He lives in Tokyo.       

● Masakatsu Shizawa In 1978, he became a curator at the Yokohama Marine Science Museum and met Ryohei Yanagihara, who was serving as a director of the museum. They remained friends until Yanagihara's death. He then built his career at the Yokohama Maritime Museum (now Yokohama Port Museum), and became the museum's director in 2015. He retired in 2019 and is currently researching maritime history.                                 

●Masayuki Okabe Born in 1957 in Yokohama. Since he was a boy, he has been interested in the art, port and ship culture, and history of his hometown, Yokohama. In 1984, he worked as a curator in the preparation room of the Yokohama City Museum of Art, where he met Ryohei Yanagihara through a regional culture salon. In 1992, he became a full-time lecturer (art history) at the Department of History, Faculty of Letters, Teikyo University. Currently professor emeritus of the Faculty of Letters at Teikyo University and special director of the Gunma Museum of Modern Art.                     

●Horikoshi Takahiro Born in Kawasaki in 1968. He spent his school days playing baseball. In 2001, he participated in the Harbor Revival Campaign as a member of the Executive Committee. After that, he was in charge of manufacturing and product planning, mainly focusing on Harbor sales activities, and met Yanagihara Ryohei. He has created a variety of hit products through collaboration projects and other means, pioneering new markets. He became president of the company in 2013. He lives in Yokohama.   

Those who cooperated

● Ryota Yanagihara (Ryota Yanagihara) Born in April 1961 in Tokyo, the eldest son of father Ryohei and mother Kaoru. When he was 4 years old he moved to Yokohama and spent his childhood in Yokohama. In 3, he joined the Bank of Japan. He retired from the Bank of Japan in 1985 and is currently working at a logistics company. He lives in Tokyo.       

● Masakatsu Shizawa In 1978, he became a curator at the Yokohama Marine Science Museum and met Ryohei Yanagihara, who was serving as a director of the museum. They remained friends until Yanagihara's death. He then built his career at the Yokohama Maritime Museum (now Yokohama Port Museum), and became the museum's director in 2015. He retired in 2019 and is currently researching maritime history.                                 

●Masayuki Okabe Born in 1957 in Yokohama. Since he was a boy, he has been interested in the art, port and ship culture, and history of his hometown, Yokohama. In 1984, he worked as a curator in the preparation room of the Yokohama City Museum of Art, where he met Ryohei Yanagihara through a regional culture salon. In 1992, he became a full-time lecturer (art history) at the Department of History, Faculty of Letters, Teikyo University. Currently professor emeritus of the Faculty of Letters at Teikyo University and special director of the Gunma Museum of Modern Art.                     

●Horikoshi Takahiro Born in Kawasaki in 1968. He spent his school days playing baseball. In 2001, he participated in the Harbor Revival Campaign as a member of the Executive Committee. After that, he was in charge of manufacturing and product planning, mainly focusing on Harbor sales activities, and met Yanagihara Ryohei. He has created a variety of hit products through collaboration projects and other means, pioneering new markets. He became president of the company in 2013. He lives in Yokohama.            

Ryohei Yanagihara principle ~RyoheIZM~

In my previous column, I wrote that the individuality shown in Ryohei Yanagihara's paintings is due to the design sense he has cultivated as a designer. However, in the art world, there seems to be a big gap between painters and designers.

For example, in the case of Cassandre, a famous French revolutionary designer who appeared in the previous issue, he only considered design work as a means to make a living until he could make a living as a painter.

Naturally, Ryohei Yanagihara's paintings have a unique originality that is different from others. I have written several times before about what makes them different, but I wanted to know why they are different. The first thing that comes to mind is that Yanagihara is not only a painter, but also an illustrator, manga artist, designer, and book designer. According to Mr. Shizawa, former director of the Yokohama Port Museum,
I saw the original pen drawing, simply titled "Sailing Passenger Ship." It was a monochrome, simple line drawing, but it was detailed with the mast, protruding bow, sails, and even the many ropes, including the tugs of war.
The other day, I had the chance to see another original painting by Yanagihara. It is a rare cut-out piece with the title "The Michelangelo in the Port of Naples" written inside the painting. The sight of the famous ship, the Michelangelo, floating in the calm port under the clear skies of Naples is truly elegant, and one can feel the leisurely flow of time.
Ryohei Yanagihara's ships are often friendly and cute, rather than majestic. Where does this friendliness come from? And how does he express it? Masakatsu Shizawa, former director of the Yokohama Port Museum, sums it up in one word: "They're deformed, aren't they? In other words, they're compressed."
I wanted to know when and how Yanagiwara Ryohei's love of ships was developed. However, I couldn't find anyone who knew about his childhood. Instead, I will introduce some passages from "Yanagiwara Ryohei's My Life" that gave me some clues. After the war (1945), Japan was under the control of the occupying forces and was not allowed to build ships, but in 1946 permission was granted to build small boats. The following year, in 1947, Yanagiwara Ryohei (15 years old), a junior high school student living in the Kansai region,
Ryohei Yanagihara loved Yokohama. He lived on the hillside of Yamate and created many works while looking at the harbor from his study/workroom (though a few years later, the harbor was no longer visible due to other buildings). There was a company president with an office in Yokohama who loved his work. He had an idea that the power of Ryohei Yanagihara's paintings could be the catalyst to boost the popularity of his company's existing products.
Now, finally, let's talk about ships. Yanagiwara's love (= knowledge) of ships is so vast and deep that I'm not sure where to begin. Anyone who reads "Senpai Enikki" (Tokuma Bunko) will understand the depth of his love for ships. Not only are specifications such as displacement (total tonnage), speed, number of passengers, ship registry, construction company, and owner company (even transitions), but there are also detailed descriptions of cabin rates from first to third class, as well as diagrams showing the location of each cabin. Of course, some may say that this can be found by researching or taking notes. However, at that time, it was impossible to casually search and find out. You had to find out how to research and who to contact on your own.
Line drawings are the starting point of Ryohei Yanagiwara's work. For him, sketching is part of daily life, and sketching starts with line drawings. He has left behind many tasteful works using line drawings. The illustrations in "Three Policemen" (Gakken) are one of the works where such illustrations can be seen. The three main characters, the policemen, are all, as usual, two-and-a-half-headed, and have almost the same faces except for the direction of their whiskers, but
Last time, I wrote about the creation of the immortal character "Uncle Tris," who has been active for over half a century since its creation in 1958. Even Ryohei Yanagihara himself probably never imagined that he would be so popular for so long. This is proof that the work contains a universality that even the author himself is not aware of. In other words, Ryohei Yanagihara's work contains "universality called charm."
The path, the ship and the port that you carve for yourself are themes that Ryohei Yanagihara has faced throughout his life, and anyone who looks at his paintings is captivated by Yanagihara's unique style, which is full of originality. I will write about his charm many times in the future, changing hands and objects, but before that, I would like to highlight another characteristic of his work: the interestingness of his portraits. .
It's frustrating not being able to say what's good about it The charm of ship paintings and the fun of portraits A painting of a ship by Ryohei Yanagihara. Sometimes it's a luxury cruise ship moored at a pier, and sometimes it's a powerful container ship being unloaded with a crane. Some of the works depict passengers waving from the deck of a passenger ship, or a captain gazing at the ship's course from the bridge of a cargo ship. Although the painting of the ship itself is far from realistic, it exudes a unique sense of detail and condensation, while the people are deformed to look like manga. .

Ryohei Yanagihara principle ~RyoheIZM~

In my previous column, I wrote that the individuality shown in Ryohei Yanagihara's paintings is due to the design sense he has cultivated as a designer. However, in the art world, there seems to be a big gap between painters and designers.

For example, in the case of Cassandre, a famous French revolutionary designer who appeared in the previous issue, he only considered design work as a means to make a living until he could make a living as a painter.

Naturally, Ryohei Yanagihara's paintings have a unique originality that is different from others. I have written several times before about what makes them different, but I wanted to know why they are different. The first thing that comes to mind is that Yanagihara is not only a painter, but also an illustrator, manga artist, designer, and book designer. According to Mr. Shizawa, former director of the Yokohama Port Museum,
I saw the original pen drawing, simply titled "Sailing Passenger Ship." It was a monochrome, simple line drawing, but it was detailed with the mast, protruding bow, sails, and even the many ropes, including the tugs of war.
The other day, I had the chance to see another original painting by Yanagihara. It is a rare cut-out piece with the title "The Michelangelo in the Port of Naples" written inside the painting. The sight of the famous ship, the Michelangelo, floating in the calm port under the clear skies of Naples is truly elegant, and one can feel the leisurely flow of time.
Ryohei Yanagihara's ships are often friendly and cute, rather than majestic. Where does this friendliness come from? And how does he express it? Masakatsu Shizawa, former director of the Yokohama Port Museum, sums it up in one word: "They're deformed, aren't they? In other words, they're compressed."
I wanted to know when and how Yanagiwara Ryohei's love of ships was developed. However, I couldn't find anyone who knew about his childhood. Instead, I will introduce some passages from "Yanagiwara Ryohei's My Life" that gave me some clues. After the war (1945), Japan was under the control of the occupying forces and was not allowed to build ships, but in 1946 permission was granted to build small boats. The following year, in 1947, Yanagiwara Ryohei (15 years old), a junior high school student living in the Kansai region,
Ryohei Yanagihara loved Yokohama. He lived on the hillside of Yamate and created many works while looking at the harbor from his study/workroom (though a few years later, the harbor was no longer visible due to other buildings). There was a company president with an office in Yokohama who loved his work. He had an idea that the power of Ryohei Yanagihara's paintings could be the catalyst to boost the popularity of his company's existing products.
Now, finally, let's talk about ships. Yanagiwara's love (= knowledge) of ships is so vast and deep that I'm not sure where to begin. Anyone who reads "Senpai Enikki" (Tokuma Bunko) will understand the depth of his love for ships. Not only are specifications such as displacement (total tonnage), speed, number of passengers, ship registry, construction company, and owner company (even transitions), but there are also detailed descriptions of cabin rates from first to third class, as well as diagrams showing the location of each cabin. Of course, some may say that this can be found by researching or taking notes. However, at that time, it was impossible to casually search and find out. You had to find out how to research and who to contact on your own.
Line drawings are the starting point of Ryohei Yanagiwara's work. For him, sketching is part of daily life, and sketching starts with line drawings. He has left behind many tasteful works using line drawings. The illustrations in "Three Policemen" (Gakken) are one of the works where such illustrations can be seen. The three main characters, the policemen, are all, as usual, two-and-a-half-headed, and have almost the same faces except for the direction of their whiskers, but
Last time, I wrote about the creation of the immortal character "Uncle Tris," who has been active for over half a century since its creation in 1958. Even Ryohei Yanagihara himself probably never imagined that he would be so popular for so long. This is proof that the work contains a universality that even the author himself is not aware of. In other words, Ryohei Yanagihara's work contains "universality called charm."
The path, the ship and the port that you carve for yourself are themes that Ryohei Yanagihara has faced throughout his life, and anyone who looks at his paintings is captivated by Yanagihara's unique style, which is full of originality. I will write about his charm many times in the future, changing hands and objects, but before that, I would like to highlight another characteristic of his work: the interestingness of his portraits. .
It's frustrating not being able to say what's good about it The charm of ship paintings and the fun of portraits A painting of a ship by Ryohei Yanagihara. Sometimes it's a luxury cruise ship moored at a pier, and sometimes it's a powerful container ship being unloaded with a crane. Some of the works depict passengers waving from the deck of a passenger ship, or a captain gazing at the ship's course from the bridge of a cargo ship. Although the painting of the ship itself is far from realistic, it exudes a unique sense of detail and condensation, while the people are deformed to look like manga. .