More than 13 years ago Keigo Takahashi found himself in the print workshop of Sol LeWitt because a friend who worked there needed help with some heavy lifting of materials for a project. A graphic designer with a gig at a bar on the side, Takahashi had not previously given much thought to printmaking as an art, let alone a career path. Suddenly, however, he found himself fascinated by the process and enamored of the art. He taught himself various printmaking techniques and took on jobs as assistant to artists such as LeWitt, Jim Dine and Chuck Close for whom printmaking was a central activity. Takahashi eventually became a master printer, specializing in large-scale screenprint and woodcut, working for more than ten years at Watanabe Studios and Pace Editions before opening his own shop. In the process, he has become a print artist himself.
In Creases 4, Takahashi explores three-dimensional space on a two-dimensional surface through the manipulation of color, shape and line. A reduction woodcut, the image was created through the repeated processes of carving, inking and printing in transparent color, working from light to dark. His images are made from small, carved shapes cut from veneer pieced together on a larger block. This allows him to vary the direction of the wood’s grain, constructing an energetic, rolling landscape.
Here he has created an almost mathematical image, juxtaposing triangles of varied lavender tones. The knife-like precision of the defining lines suggests the facets of a gemstone, while the tight configuration in the lower right corner recalls the creases of a piece of crumpled paper. Takahashi exploits contradictions of precision and disorder, geometry and representation, flatness and dimensionality in an image of malleable space. The illusion of three-dimensional creases is at odds with the paper’s planarity. In the strict standards of the print studios where he used to work, “Creased paper was totally opposite … but I started finding interest and beauty [in] it,” says the artist.
At Takahashi’s print shop in Brooklyn, KeigoPrints, he trains printmakers in screenprint and woodcut. His shop is a haven for young artists starting out much as he did—new to the art of printmaking but passionate about the medium.