Sadao Watanabe - Limited Edition Print of "Jacob Wrestling the Angel" Artist Hand Signed, Numbered 50/50 and Dated 1964 in white. Image/Momigami paper size 26.5" x 23". Frame size 28.5" x 25" . Old Testament Series.
Jacob's Wrestling Match
(Genesis 32:22-31, NIV.)
That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two maidservants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions.
So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob's hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man.
Then the man said, "Let me go, for it is daybreak."
But Jacob replied, "I will not let you go unless you bless me."
The man asked him, "What is your name?"
"Jacob," he answered.
Then the man said, "Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome."
Jacob said, "Please tell me your name."
But he replied, "Why do you ask my name?" Then he blessed him there.
So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, "It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared."
The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip.
Sadao Watanabe (渡辺 禎雄 Watanabe Sadao, July 7, 1913 – January 8, 1996), born and grew up in Tokyo, was a Japanese printmaker in the 20th Century. Watanabe was famous for his biblical prints rendered in the mingei (folk art) tradition of Japan. As a student of the master textile dye artist Serizawa Keisuke (1895–1984), Watanabe was associated with the mingei (folk art) movement.
The subject matter of Watanabe’s prints is exclusively the gospel rendered in the mingei (folk art) approach. Influenced by Buddhist figure prints, Watanabe placed biblical subjects in a Japanese context.
Watanabe used momigami (kneaded paper). The momigami paper was crumpled by hand, squeezed and wrinkled to give a rough quality to the prints. The katazome method uses traditional organic and mineral pigments in a medium of soybean milk. The protein in the milk bound the colors to the paper’s surface. The use of natural materials is one of the characteristics of mingei (folk art). Watanabe would make a drawing, first, on tracing paper, using a knife to cut a stencil of the design out of hardened paper. Putting the stencil on a light box, he placed the print sheet on top, painting in all the areas he wanted to color inside the silhouette of his pattern. Next, the stencil would be placed atop the colored page and covered with a silk screen. Using a wooden spatula, Watanabe spread a resist paste, covering over all the colored areas of the print. He removed the stencil, painting the exposed stencil lines and the covered areas in black. Finally, the paste coating was washed off in a water bath to reveal the colors within the black stencil lines.
The Vatican Museum, the British Museum, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo and many other leading museums in the world had exhibited Watanabe’s works. During President Lyndon Johnson's administration, Watanabe’s prints were hung in the White House. Watanabe once remarked that he preferred that his prints hang in the ordinary places of life: "I would most like to see them [his prints] hanging where people ordinarily gather, because Jesus brought the gospel for the people". Such is the mingei philosophy of art for the people and by the people.
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