KAORU SAITO, Born 1931
Kaoru Saito is self-taught in the difficult mezzotint process. Along with Yozo Hamaguchi and Katsunori Hamanishi, Saito is one of the most accomplished technician in mezzotint working in Japan today, and his prints have a finish and perfection which would be difficult to equal. His studies of women combine a traditional Japanese aesthetic with an almost Pre-Raphaelite romanticism. Now in his 70s, Saito lives in his hometown of Hayama, Kanagawa Prefecture.
Saito was educated at the Tathuo Arai Art Institute in Tokyo and in 1972 won First Prize at the Shunyohkai Exhibition in Japan. He has taught in both Japanese and American schools and has exhibited in Japan, the United States, South Korea and Belgium.
Mezzotint is a difficult intaglio printing process which is done in two stages. First, a metal plate is initially grained by working over it systematically with a spiked tool known as the rocker; this creates a multitude of fine dots all over its surface. If inked, the plate would print a rich black. The second stage of the process consists in smoothing away parts of the roughened surface with the aid of a scraper and a burnisher in order to create the white and highlighted parts of the resulting print. The scraping of the plate is a skillful job; delicate tonal transitions can be obtained if it is done well, but the flat appearance of some mezzotints is an indication of the difficulties involved. Color mezzotints can be printed with several plates, one for each color.
Mezzotint rewards the skilled practitioner with subtle shading and incredible graphic detail.