Minami Keiko’s etchings offer the magic of fairy tale-like, narrative settings. Her fine touches on the printing plate and understated colors result in delicate, sometimes whimsical scenes. For me, she is often sweet without being cloying. Yet some prints hint at a deeper and more mysterious sense of ennui, loneliness, or alienation. Minami was orphaned at a young age, and moved to Tokyo from Toyama prefecture at age 35 in 1946. Interested in poetry and painting from childhood, she began to study oil painting. She began etching after meeting artist Hamaguchi Yōzō. In 1954 they moved to Paris, where they both pursued successful artistic careers for three decades.
Minami was a founding member of Joryū Hanga Kyōkai, or the Women’s Print Association—the first printmaking society for women artists in Japan. This group was important, but it has never gotten the critical attention it deserves. You can see this print and work by Minami’s peers in our current small show on this pioneering collective—the first exhibition in the world to focus on this group as a collective in the ‘50s and ‘60s.
—Jeannie Kenmotsu, The Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Curator of Asian Art
Minami Keiko (Japanese, active France, United States, and Japan, 1911–2004), Arbre (Tree), 1955. Color etching and aquatint on paper. The Vivian and Gordon Gilkey Graphic Arts Collection, 83.57.284 © Musée Hamaguchi Yōzō