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Yunoki Samiro

Samiro YUNOKI was born in 1922 into a family of painters. In 1942 he entered Tokyo University to study art history, but his studies were interrupted by the war. In 1946, he began to work at the Ohara Museum of art in Kurashiki in Okayama prefecture, a town with rich traditions and already a centre of Japanese folk crafts (mingei). Kurashiki is not far from Hiroshima, and was the town in which the Yunoki family had originated.

While at the Ohara museum Yunoki came across a calendar designed by Keisuke SERIZAWA, a master craftsman in the art of stencil-dyeing (katazome). The calendar featured bold stencil-dyed patterns printed on rich textured hand-made paper. This inspired Yunoki to turn his attention to the mingei traditions and to its renaissance as a movement under the guidance of Soetsu YANAGI whose works Yunoki studied with avid interest and a growing fascination.

His interest in mingei led him to abandon his university studies and his job at the museum, and to devote himself to the art form which had so intrigued him. He traveled to Tokyo , and there met Serizawa bearing a letter of introduction from Yanagi. Serizawa recommended him to study katazome "in the field", and Yunoki arranged to apprentice himself to a craftsman working in the small fishing town of Yui in Shizuoka prefecture, not far from Mount Fuji.

In 1949 Yunoki submitted a work to the Kokugakai Tenrankai ( the society for exhibiting Japanese Arts and Crafts) for the first time, and has continued to do so ever since.

Yunoki's first solo exhibition was held in 1950 at the Takumi craft gallery in Tokyo, and he has participated in exhibitions of many kinds over the forty years which have followed. At the 1958 Brussels Expo he was awarded a bronze medal for his katazome wallpaper.

Yunoki has diversified his work today, experimenting with the rough natural materials which have always interested him, painting on wood, glass, and textile materials. He retains a strong link to the rich folk craft tradition which inspired him but brings to it his own style full of warmth, wit, and humour. He has a discerning eye for his subjects, and his bold use of colour and contrast bring a lively dynamism to his chosen medium.

While pursuing his own career, Yunoki began lecturing at the Women's College of Fine Art in Tokyo where his mentor Serizawa had taught, and became a full professor there in 1972. He was elected President of the College in 1987, and remained in that position until his retirement in 1991.




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