Shodo Iwagaki


Design by Shodo Iwagaki.


This exhibition card took Shodo two days to carve.

Yesterday I spent a lovely afternoon in the sunny yard of Tortoise, a lovely Japanese store on Abbott Kinney. I was attending a two hour woodblock printing workshop with Shodo Iwagaki, a Soto-Zen Buddhist monk visiting from Japan. I felt very privileged to be attending the class, as it was limited to only eight people. Shodo Iwagaki lives at the Mairai-ji zen temple in Okayama, Japan, where he has worked on his woodblock printing for many years. I wish I could show some of the photographs taken by Keiko Shinomoto (founder of Tortoise) of the inside of his temple – huge, minimalist, geometric woodblock prints on the panels of the sliding doors, alongside Noguchi lamps. It looked so striking.

For the workshop we were supplied with a Japanese woodcarving set, two small panels of wood and a postcard sized piece of handmade paper produced by a friend of Shodo. Also plenty of paper to sketch and test print on. Shodo suggested we work on a design using three shapes – a circle, triangle and square. These are apparently very zen shapes and can be interpreted in endless ways. And it was a simple enough brief to achieve a design within the two hours we had! It was interesting to see how varied the designs ended up. Everyone’s image was very unique. Some were abstract, and some were arranged to form a representation of something else. The actual process of carving the wood was so peaceful and enjoyable. I feel totally inspired to continue doing some printing in this way … and hopefully applying it to fabric as well as paper.

Shodo Iwagaki currently has an exhibition of some of his works at Tortoise, 1342 1/2 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291 – until the 7th June 2009.








4 Responses to “Shodo Iwagaki”

  1. 1 mihotanaka May 18, 2009 at 7:17 pm

    hi! this show looks really good. I’m very curious about the monk.. I’ll try checking out!

  2. 2 lucindanewtondunn May 18, 2009 at 8:28 pm

    Yes, he was really nice and his work seems really interesting. There’s not much online about him. Maybe you can find more in Japanese … but I think he is pretty unknown. I think the Tortoise guys basically spotted some of his work in a restaurant in Japan somewhere and inquired about the artist, then hunted him down at his temple which is in the middle of nowhere in the countryside.

  3. 3 lucindanewtondunn May 18, 2009 at 8:32 pm

    I just found this article on him actually, which is quite nice:

  4. 4 mihotanaka May 19, 2009 at 10:16 pm

    I found lots about him in Japanese in internet. His temple in Okayama is called “Wood Printing Temple” as he made 100 artwork on sliding doors in the temple. It was worth knowing it. Thanks for your reply!

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