Renowned printmaker exhibits at Penn College

Published 10.25.2023

Faculty & Staff
The Gallery at Penn College

A renowned printmaker whose multicolor intaglio prints are in museums around the world is sharing his work through Dec. 1 in The Gallery at Penn College.

Yuji Hiratsuka’s “Retro Urban Mode” exhibit showcases his whimsical and satirical images, crafted with his unique technique of chine collé with etching.

He will also offer an artist’s talk via Zoom at 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 9. Registration is required and can be made at the gallery website.

Yuji Hiratsuka’s “Foul Bite, Happy Accident,” 2022, intaglio and chine collé, 30 inches by 22 inches
Yuji Hiratsuka’s “Foul Bite, Happy Accident,” 2022, intaglio and chine collé, 30 inches by 22 inches

Hiratsuka’s printmaking method is specific to the artist because he uses one plate to print four colors instead of using one plate per color. Between each color, he sands all of the work off the plate and prepares the areas for the next color. The paper must dry for several days between each color printing, so each print takes roughly one month to complete. None of his work can be reproduced. His prints bear a slight resemblance to traditional Japanese ukiyo-e prints, which are frequently flat, bright and decorative.

“With continuous alterations to the copper plate, I print a sequence of black, yellow, red and blue, passing the same plate through the press for each design and color change,” Hiratsuka explained. “To start, the first tones to the plate are given with line etching, drypoint, aquatint, soft ground, photocopy transfer or roulette. I pull my first color. With these first impressions, I work back into the plate with a scraper, burnisher and emery paper to enhance the lights and accent the motif. I then go on to the second, third and fourth colors. Finally, the print is completed from the back with a relief process of woodcut or linocut to intensify shapes and/or colors. I print on the paper that best suits my work: a thin Japanese paper known as toyama kozo (mulberry).

“As in the French use of chine collé, I apply glue to the back of the kozo print and pass it through the press, with a heavier rag paper beneath. What the viewer sees is my four-color intaglio print saturated with subtle tones that come through the back of the toyama kozo paper, which is set deep into a rag paper.”

Combining his native Japanese culture with his current life in the U.S., Hiratsuka’s figures express contemporary aspects of the Western Hemisphere and are simplified or exaggerated, engaging with various elements such as flora, fauna, pop culture, anime, furniture and fashion. The artist employs a strong sense of humor and symbolism and is interested in expressing human moods and thoughts.

Hiratsuka’s “Melancholic Feast,” 2022, intaglio and chine collé, 30 inches by 22 inches
Hiratsuka’s “Melancholic Feast,” 2022, intaglio and chine collé, 30 inches by 22 inches

Hiratsuka was born in Osaka, Japan. He earned a Bachelor of Science in art education from Tokyo Gakugei University, a Master of Arts in printmaking from New Mexico State University and a Master of Fine Arts in printmaking from Indiana University. He was a professor of art at Oregon State University for 30 years.

Hiratsuka has had numerous solo shows in the U.S. and various countries, including Italy, Japan, Russia, Canada, Northern Ireland and South Korea. His work is in numerous public collections including The British Museum; Tokyo Central Art Museum; Panstwowe Museum, Poland; The House of Humor and Satire, Bulgaria; Cincinnati Art Museum; Cleveland Museum of Art; Portland Art Museum; New York Public Library; The Library of Congress; and The Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art.

Located on the third floor of The Madigan Library at Pennsylvania College of Technology, The Gallery at Penn College is open 2 to 8 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays; 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays; and 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays. (The gallery is closed on Mondays and Saturdays and will be closed Nov. 22-26 for Thanksgiving.) Admission to the gallery is free and open to the public. Groups are welcome to contact the gallery director to schedule visits.

Celebrating its 18th season, The Gallery at Penn College is a cultural asset to the college and local communities, providing the opportunity for appreciation and exploration of contemporary art and encouraging critical thinking and meaningful experiences.

For more about the 2023-24 exhibits, visit the gallery website, send email or call 570-320-2445.

For more about Penn College, a national leader in applied technology education, email the Admissions Office or call toll-free 800-367-9222.