Paul Binnie: Cloud Shadows Grand Canyon

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Artist: Paul Binnie (Born 1967)
Title: Cloud Shadows Grand Canyon
Date: 2007

Impressive, oversized view of the Grand Canyon. Binnie adapted his earlier drawings to make a new series that was a tribute to Hiroshi Yoshida, whom he refers to as the master in Meisho to no tabi, Travels with the Master. Numbered in pencil 30/100. Printed from 14 blocks in 32 colors. 

As the artist himself wrote about this work: 

By now many people will have seen my new print, 'Cloud Shadows, Grand Canyon', my 100th print design and the first in a new series of landscape prints called 'Meishou to no Tabi', or Travels With The Master. But few can imagine the long and difficult process by which this print finally came into existence, taking longer than any of my other prints - in fact, two and a half years!...

It was agreed that I should go to the Canyon for about a week in September to October 2004...

We spent several days with varieties of weather, including rainbows, which were spectacular and quite rare, and mist, which transformed the Canyon into a ink painting of subtle shades, but the most spectacular day was one of dense cloud, broken by shafts of strong sunlight and of all the studies I made there, it was this effect that I decided to try to capture in the design I would make...

Back in London, I came up with the key block design, based on my sketches and studies, and I sent that to the two collaborators. ...I had made impressions of the key block, and bought the especially-large size wood for the rest of the color blocks - in all, over 30 color impressions are used in the design, printed from 14 blocks...

In my mind, the project had developed into its current form - I wanted to link the print I was making to Yoshida Hiroshi's image of the same area, made in 1925, and to so so, I copied his katakana calligraphy for 'Grand Canyon' and made it the print title, under my own calligraphy for the series title, 'Meishou to no Tabi' or Travels with the Master, obviously in homage to Yoshida.

My growing interest in Yoshida's work has meant that I am very interested to travel to places that he depicted in his prints, and so developing the Grand Canyon print in this way seemed to be a logical step. I was very lucky in being able to ask Numabe Shinkichi, one of the master-printers at the Yoshida studio run by Hiroshi's grandson, to do the printing for me, as I was busy on other projects and anyway wanted to have this close connection with the Yoshida tradition.

Cloud Shadows is my 100th Japanese print; I will be exhibiting it in Kyoto in November, at a retrospective of my woodblock prints at Ritsumeikan University, and in his text to appear in the accompanying catalog of my complete prints, Dr. Kendall Brown says of this design:

"Binnie is also exploring new ground in landscape. Grand Canyon (Cloud Shadows, Grand Canyon, cat. 100) is an explicit homage to Yoshida Hiroshi, who represented the same part of the canyon, and thus the print is a fitting start to the new series, Meisho to no Tabi (Travels with the Master) projected to include several landscape prints that directly address some of Hiroshi's best-known non-Japanese travel prints."

"Binnie even made a copy of the Japanese title on Hiroshi's Grand Canyon and then cut a block to reproduce it on the left margin of his own print. Moreover, like Hiroshi, Binnie uses pencil to write the print's title in English and to sign the print. In the final act of homage, Grand Canyon was printed in the Yoshida studio in an attempt to reproduce something of the "soft feel" of Hiroshi's work. Despite these acts connecting the print with Yoshida's image, Binnie worked from nature rather than from Hiroshi's print. As a result his print is, paradoxically, both entirely individual and a variation on an earlier model."

Of course only time will tell if collectors and print-lovers take my image to their hearts in the way that they have with Yoshida's prints, but I hope that my print will have its own personality and be appreciated as a sincere compliment to an artist of the past whom I admire, as well as being an expression of my own style of woodblock printmaking at the beginning of the current millennium.

Condition: Excellent impression, color and condition.

Dimensions: 47.5 x 66.5 cm (paper size)
Series: Meisho to no Tabi (Travels with the Master)
Signature: Paul Binnie (in pencil, lower right) Titled in pencil lower left. Paper is embossed "Binnie" at bottom.