Clifton Karhu, American/Japanese (1927 - 2007)

Clifton Karhu

Clifton W. Karhu came to Japan in 1955 and has continued his work as an artist over the years. The first time I saw his paintings, I was strongly impressed by their similarity to contemporary woodblock prints. Though I thought I was being rather bold, I suggested teaching him the orthodox techniques of woodblock printmaking.

He was exceptionally enthusiastic in accepting what I could offer. This resulted in a daring departure for him from oil painting to woodblock prints of today, and he continues to work hard in this medium.
Later I introduced him to Mr. Takeji Asano who is one of the founders of contemporary printmaking in Japan from whom he gained more technical knowledge. Also through friendship with traditional artisans he has been able to learn all of the Ukiyo-E skills himself. Beyond this, he was fortunate enough to work with world famous painter and colorist, Stanton MacDonald Wright, one of the first abstract artists in Europe (1910-1915) and the founder of synchrony. These things have worked together to create Clifton Karhu’s unique style.


Clifton W. Karhu was born in Duluth Minnesota in 1927. He studied at the Minneapolis School of Art. He has lived in Japan since 1955.

He has exhibited with: Central Japan Pacific Art Society, Central Japan Watercolor Society, All Japan Watercolor Society, Kyoto Print Society, All Japan Print Society, Niki Kai, CWA Invitational Print Show, Gifu City Show, and Gifu Prefectural show. He has been a member of Pacific Art Society, Kyoto Print Society, All Japan Print Society, (is now a member of the All Japan Print Society only). One-man show has included Tokyo, Yokosuka, Nagoya, Gifu, Kyoto, Fukuoka, Sasebo, Sydney, New Caldonia, Tahitit, Copenhagen, Berkeley California, Worthington Minnesota, and York Pennsylvania. Works have been commissioned by: C. Itoh Ltd. Matsushita Electric Co., National Panasonic, Nihon Shashin (Nissha), Pan American, World Airways, Cathay Pacific Airways, Hong Kong Tourist Association, Encyclopedia Britannica, Europe, Continental Trailways-Japan, Nihon Kayaku, Co., Ltd, Hong Kong Shanghai Bank, oda kimono K. K., IBM-Japan, Boston Kyoto Sister City Committee. He also has been featured in: Asia Magazine, Newsweek, The Journal, Ukiyoe, Art Solon News, Mainichi, Asahi evening News, Churyu Journal, Playboy, Tans Pacific, Graphis Annual, Orientations, Ginka, Weekly Genron, Shukan Bunshun, Manga Sunday. Now he is presently showing works: Ashiya Gallery, 172-13-4 Chrome, Kiyomizu, Matsu-bara Higashiyama Ku, Kyoto, Yamada Gallery, 253 Umemoto Cho, Shinmonszen Street, Higaashiyama Ku, Kyoto, Fran-Neill Gallery, TBR Bldg., 408, 10-2 2 Chome, Nagata Cho, Chiyoda Ku, Tokyo

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