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Lifelines: The Woodcuts of Naoko Matsubara

Lifelines is a celebration of the distinguished career of Japanese print artist Naoko Matsubara (b. 1937) who has donated over a hundred works to the Ashmolean. Now based in Canada, Matsubara has been working for over sixty years, making joyful woodcuts which demonstrate remarkable innovation and variety, constantly pushing at the boundaries of the woodblock medium.

Matsubara seeks to capture the essence of a subject in its simplest form, working both in monochrome and with multiple blocks and colours. Inspired by nature, place, literature, music and movement, her prints range from intimate to monumental, playful to contemplative, figurative to abstract. She works in a variety of formats, most recently experimenting with woodcut collages, murals and sculptural forms, and has published many books and portfolios containing original as well as reproduced prints. All her work is characterised by spontaneity and a bold freedom of expression. Matsubara carves directly into the woodblock to create her images, bringing a powerful energy to her works.

Since 1961 Matsubara has mainly lived outside Japan and her work is immersed in the modern artistic traditions of Europe and America. She also maintains a strong connection with her Japanese cultural roots. Yet the art she creates expresses a very personal vision.

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