Thursday, January 10, 2008

Fresh seeing. Fresh thinking.

Thirty-six views of Mt. Fuji

There is a problem with writing little pieces to twin with my paintings (or sometimes finding a picture to go with what I want to write about.).Everyone knows that a piece of art is a visual entity and ought to convey its essence in a visual way without benefit of language.

I was digging around in a drawer the other day, and found a gift set of postcards from a Japanese exchange student. They were compelling! A selection of five from the famous series by the wood-block print artist Hokusai, I looked at them for a long time. Mt. Fuji sometimes fills the whole frame, in others the mountain lies in the distance behind scenes from the human world; of fishermen perhaps, or forestry workers. Its always there though; through the seasons, in the minute to minute transience of sun and showers. Always there: tied intimately into the spirit of the Japanese people.

Now it turns out of course, that these splendid works of art were illustrations for a book (by Ukiyoe) about the lands around the mountain. The wood-cuts were made to go along with words after all, but I can attempt to understand them without language. The main problem really is that my mind wants to chat away while I look and surely the correct way to view them is as a meditation." Back, back, you noisy mind!" Or is this a kind of lazy thinking that automatically assumes that there is a correct way to experience anything. I find these pictures revolutionary because they ask me to see in a new way, to see deeply and freshly. If I would be true to the spirit of these paintings, I too need to let them enter my inner self just as freshly, without preconceived ideas as to how it should happen or what I should find. Across the years, the culture and the language, these images of Mt Fuji challenge my capacity for fresh seeing and fresh thinking.

I think that I am tired of oughts and corrects. They stand in the way.

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