Shoichi Ida, who died in 2006, was born in 1941 in Kyoto, Japan. He was trained in both Western and Eastern art traditions, but his work remained essentially Japanese. In 1997 Margaret Hawkins wrote in the Chicago Sun-Times, “In Ida’s works there is a sense of purity and the feeling that he has uncluttered the vast abundance of nature so that we may see it more clearly.” Since the mid-1960s, he often focused on a concept he called “The Surface is the Between,” which he first began to develop in printmaking and extended throughout his life to works in handmade paper, clay, bronze, steel, iron, and painting on paper and canvas. He explained his unifying concept in an interview published in the Hara Museum Review in 1987: “The surface can be the paper or canvas or whatever; it is the point of contact between me and the ideas I am working on. Through my work I try to make invisible phenomena visible by showing the point of contact.”
Shoichi Ida earned a postgraduate degree from the Kyoto Municipal University of Art in 1964. He received a grant in 1968 from the French government to live and work in Paris and also lived briefly in New York and in San Francisco. He exhibited at the Holly Solomon Gallery in New York, the Perimeter Gallery in Chicago, and Don Soker Contemporary Art in San Francisco. In 1990 five of his prints were shown at the Cincinnati Art Museum.
Ida was perhaps best known as a paper artist and printmaker. He told Constance Lewallen in a 1989 interview that he was moved to begin making prints in the early 1960s when a stone left an impression on a piece of paper in his studio. In addition to a great deal of print work in Japan, he produced five portfolios of etchings with Crown Point Press between 1984 and 1992 and a woodcut in Crown Point’s Japan program in 1986.
In 1986 Ida was presented with an Award for Excellence in International Cultural Exchange from the National Endowment for the Arts. In 1989 he was awarded the prestigious Suntory Prize in Japan. In 2003, in perhaps his final body of work, he collaborated with artist Robert Kushner on "East and West, Points of Contact", at the Sheehan Gallery in Walla Walla, Washington. He was given a retrospective at the Toyota City Museum in 2005.
Shoichi Ida’s work is held in public collections around the world, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; and the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo. His estate is represented by the Perimeter Gallery in Chicago.
- Kim Bennett