Azechi Umetaro (1902 - 1999)
His birthplace was Uwajima in Ehime prefecture. Umetaro wanted to become an artist and often people in the underdog position have the ability to deploy incredible energies when they want to reach a goal. Azechi Umetaro was one of them. He bought a course by correspondence in art lessons from Tokyo. In 1920 he went to Tokyo, got a job delivering newspapers and continued the art course by correspondence. Then, He got a new job in a government printing company. The company had tools and materials for printing and Azechi started tinkering with engraving plates without ever having had any training with this equipment.
But by the late 1940s he had developed his own style and his favorite landmark subjects - designs of mountain scenes and mountaineers in simplified forms of large flat areas. The artist had become an avid mountaineer and earned his living both from his prints and as an author of books about mountaineering.
Azechi took part in all three print biennales in Sao Paulo, Lugano and Tokyo. He had finally become a successful artist. The dream of the poor newspaper distributor had turned into reality. But he remained a modest man without any attitudes - devoting his life to making prints and going into the mountains with his comrades, who by the way, did not appreciate his prints at all.
But others do. Today his prints are to be found in major museum collections like the Achenbach Foundation in San Francisco, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts or The British Museum in London.
Azechi Umetaro died in 1999 at the age of 97.