This page is artist Yasu Suzuka's official website


PPAS Special Feature Article

Print work, Grand Prix at the Exhibition of the Japan Print Association

To the world of art

I was originally interested in geology and archeology rather than art, and it wasn’t until my high school days when the world of art opened up for me. In the first year, a part-time art teacher, who had just graduated from Tama Art University in Tokyo, was assigned to my high school (he returned to the Oil Painting Course at Tama Art University two years later and became my fellow student, and we still have a good teacher-student relationship), and this young teacher and I often visited exhibitions of great artists together, like Van Gogh and Chagall. Through viewing the awe-inspiring work of the masters, my perception of the world of art gradually changed. As I was an impatient and impetuous type of person who always wanted to see results straightaway, art seemed to suit me as I could obtain quick and visible results through my work. It didn’t take long before I began to immerse myself in art after this, and I began to realize it was not that easy to bring about results in the art world.

Another person who influenced me during my high school time was an English teacher who wanted to become a painter, and actively encouraged me, saying I should pursue my dream while I was young. My decision to join the Oil Painting Course at Tama Art University was mainly due to encountering these two teachers and enjoying their support and advice. However, I was never truly able to find fulfillment in oil painting as I tended to get too hung up on “results.”

In the autumn of my freshman year at the university, I went to see Masuo Ikeda’s work, a Grand Prix winner in the printmaking division of Venice Biennale, at an art gallery in Kyobashi, Osaka, and was completely blown away. To me, printed work seemed to be a genuine completion of expression, and as I was far too impatient to wait for the print classes which would start over a year later at my university, I began to study it on my own. I gathered and learned techniques and expressions one after the other, and consequently had work accepted for the Exhibition of the Japan Print Association when I was a sophomore, and won the New Comer’s Prize at the same exhibition in my junior year, the year printmaking classes started at my university.

In my junior year, 1968, there was turmoil and numerous disputes in universities all over Japan, which was hardly the kind of environment conducive to taking classes at university, but I remained totally focused on the commitment to my art work. The following year, just after I became a senior, I won a Grand Prix at the same exhibition. These disputes were to end just before the time of graduation, and many teachers and students returned to the university. I, however, did not. The reason I write “Studied at the Oil Painting Course, Tama Art University” rather than “Graduated” on my resume is a reflection of my personal viewpoint of the situation at that time. (My mother received the graduation certificate from the university later.)

During these chaotic times, I founded a silkscreen printmaking company with two of my friends from an art university prep school, Mitsuhiko Yoshida (illustrator) and Makiko Goto (Mrs. Yoshida), to create artworks and posters and to extend my work as an artist.

It was in 1972, due to two coincidental events, that I decided to move to Kyoto. I was invited by Kyoto City University of Arts as a lecturer when it established a printmaking course (as there were not many artists who were engaged in phototype printing around at that time), and I accepted an invitation to hold a personal exhibition at Heian Gallery, a long-established gallery in Kyoto, as part of its second anniversary event.

Since then, I have been living and working as an artist in Kyoto, a city where I originally had not had any connections or acquaintances. I think it is very true to say that my life over this time has been shaped through a variety of different connections and encounters.