Spencer Museum of Art The University of Kansas

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Waxing Moon and Ocean "B"
  • Iwami Reika
    born 1927
    born: Tokyo, Japan ; active: Japan
  • Waxing Moon and Ocean "B", 1990
  • Where object was made: Japan
  • woodcut, mica, gold leaf
  • Image Dimensions Height/Width: 491 x 775 mm
    Image Dimensions Height/Width: 19 5/16 x 30 1/2 in
    Frame Dimensions: 26 1/4 x 37 1/4 x 1 in
    Weight: 10 lbs
  • Museum purchase: Lucy Shaw Schultz Fund
  • Not on display
  • 1992.0001
Label Text

Exhibition Label:
"Japan Re-imagined/Post-war Art," Mar-2008, Kris Ercums
Iwami’s prints celebrate her seaside home. Using driftwood gathered on her daily walks along the beach, she transforms the wood grain into images of waves. While her manipulation of the driftwood patterns to suggest ocean currents is novel, the style of the waves is reminiscent of ancient designs found on folding screens, textiles and
lacquerware. Her poetic use of the moon and sea, which dwarf a small butterfly gracefully fluttering in their midst, adds a layer of poetic symbolism to her lyrical work.

Archive Label 2003:
Waxing Moon and Ocean B was added to our collection in 1990 to reflect contemporary trends in Japanese printmaking, such as the use of mix media, abstract design, and larger formats then were commonly used in the past.
Iwami was born in 1927 and is among the first generation of Japanese women print makers. Although she primarily uses traditional woodblock techniques, she also includes lithography and intaglio in her work. Influenced by the important print artists Onchi and Shinagawa, Iwami often uses driftwood as printing blocks. She exploits the natural wood grain, using it to represent lakes, rivers, or the ocean in her compositions. Expressed primarily in black and white, Iwami’s distinctive style is characterized by a strong sense of design and judicious placement of metallic foil as an accent.

Archive Label date unknown:
Iwami Reika began her art career as a dollmaker. When she discovered the works of Onchi Kōshirō, however, she turned to printmaking under the tutelage of Onchi's student Sekino Jun'ichirō. True to the spirit of Onchi, Iwami works in an abstract style. She severely limits her compositions to a few key elements. She avoids color, chosing instead to emphasize the combination of natural textures and abstract form. Iwami often uses found or simulated driftwood to symbolize the union of wood and water. Here, a solid black rectangle is blended with the finely textured grays of the waves and the discreet accent of gold in the moon. A sprinkling of powdered mica over the black area suggests windblown sand.