IMC Nara Theme

Nara Conference Theme & Subtopics


Mokuhanga & Nara

墨-フュージョン 木版画と奈良

The 4th International Mokuhanga Conference, IMC2021 NARA, will take place from December 1 to 3, 2021, in Nara, Japan, and as a virtual conference globally accessible online.

Still renowned today as a center of production for the finest sumi ink, Nara is an ideal site for IMC2021. This fourth convening of the conference, titled Sumi-Fusion, will celebrate the versatility of sumi in woodblock printing, both historically and in contemporary applications across Japan and abroad. Additionally, it will explore the presence of black, and how it relates to color.

Lying at the easternmost end of the Silk Road, Nara was a meeting point where artisans, monks, merchants and literati from China, Korea and India mingled with the citizens of the ancient capital. And it was here, with the refinement of available materials for its production, that woodblock printmaking became an important medium of communication.

IMC2021 will combine a look at Nara’s role in the development of mokuhanga while spotlighting its contemporary fusions: its relevance today, its globalizing future, and its ever-growing interest among new generations of art students, crafts-people, artists and academics.

IMC2021 has been designed around exhibitions, discussions, demonstrations and academic presentations that reflect the diversity of interests and approaches to mokuhanga within the wider disciplinary world of print-media and contemporary art.

We welcome participation in the conference at all levels of interest (juried exhibitions, paper presentations, illustrated talks, open portfolios and product showcase), and encourage connections to the topics suggested by the umbrella theme Sumi-Fusion and its sub-themes Histories, Aesthetics, Intersections, and Futures as outlined below.

Histories    歴史について

  • Origins of the craft and use of woodblock print, including books, in Japan
  • Development in and around Nara of print-related materials such as sumi ink, prototypes for the baren, and early paper-production
  • Historical print production centers, dissemination and socio-cultural relevance of woodblock printed materials, books, etc. in Nara and beyond
  • Sumi-e (ink painting), sumi-zuri (early woodblock prints), sumitakuzuri (rubbings) and sumi-nagashi (ink marbling), and their relation to sumi in mokuhanga
  • Historical influences of Chinese woodblock printing (mubanhua) on mokuhanga, and modern influences of mokuhanga on printmaking in China

Aesthetics   墨と色


  • Black and its cultural and aesthetic significance in historical and contemporary mokuhanga
  • The importance of the material constitution of sumi blacks and other blacks in mokuhanga and other print media today

COLOR   色と木版画

  • Changing audiences: The introduction of color in mokuhanga (multiblock color separation and registration, and other printing techniques related to color)
  • Color expression in contemporary and historical mokuhanga: ukiyoe, sosaku hanga, shin hanga and hybrid prints

Intersections   交差する視点

Mokuhanga’s contemporary intersections with:

  • Society, culture, politics and the environment
  • Craft inside and outside Japan
  • Other print media
  • Sculpture/video+film/performance/digital art/installation
  • Japanese concepts, e.g. hansei (反省); fukinsei (不均整); zen (禪), iki (いき); wabi (侘) and sabi (寂)

Futures   次の世代へ

  • Mokuhanga’s dissemination and reception as an international print medium; its relation to print workshops, art fairs, publishing houses, etc.
  • The attraction of mokuhanga to young artists
  • Teaching mokuhanga in schools, workshops and colleges
  • International mokuhanga in relation to its Japanese origins
  • The future of mokuhanga in Japan