Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Details about the new Show

The Alphabet and Naked Buddha are hidden in this painting. Can you find them?

mt. ishizuchi
there is a great video of this scene to the right. "Rick and Shikoku"

Highschool Yearbook sign. I decided to go all out.

Some of you might notice that this is the fourth painting in the "Omens" series (the other three depict only three birds, an "omen" I saw again and again while studying with the Dalai Lama in India. Four is considered an unlucky number in Japan because it's a pun meaning death. "Shi." The square, like the triangle and circle, is sacred geometry and mandalic/(archetecture of heaven). Two of those birds were actually there that cloudy day (I took their picture). The other two I made up.
How many creatures and patterns can you find in the clouds? I love how our minds, in real life, can see animals and memories in clouds. It's an old pastime and great optical illusion. closure...
All my paintings from this series use photo references, sketches, or actual memories from places around my town on Shikoku (a japanese holy island and pilgrimage sight. people come from all over the world to complete the famous 88 temple pilgrimage circuambulating this island). This places and characters depicted are all real--real lived experiences I've had, while at the same time they're pure make-believe, memories at best, illusions, dreams, made up spaces, empty in the end. (just like our lives?)
That's the crazy thing about attempting realism with painting; from the very beginning it's totally unbelievable--it's just paint on wood! And yet, hopefully, with a little light, shadow, sfumato and magic, the image can trigger certain cues inside the viewer's brain and body, and the art, like a magic trick, can hover ahead of them as a kind of momentarily believable space. Then their state of consciousness can...mingle..with the painting, and some sort of exchange can take place. The dreamy situation depicted below some of you have actually visited. It's down the road from my house, by the river. Right next to that tree is a meditation room (with the secret buddha and mirror) and I swear it's on a special energy vortex or something; I always get into deep meditation very quickly there.
That's you there, embedded inside the dream-scape, quietly wandering over to the other side.
I really like how my old roommate and fellow Kansan Artist Bradford Kessler is playing with the dream theme, but in a far more multi-media trained voice. His stuff blows me away. It's so thought-full, and acts as an artifact from our new, holistic, interpenetrating multidimensional matrix post-postmodern reality. You gotta check his stuff out.

The theme of my painting show this year mom is "Yuugen," 幽玄.We don't really have a word for this in English, so I chose "Subtle Worlds" to be the other theme. The postcard:

Yuugen is a term mostly used to describe a certain aspects of artistic expression and perception. It also has religious (Buddhist) connotations. To give you an idea of what this word can mean in Japanese, the first character "yuu" is used in the word yuurei, 幽霊 which means spirit or ghost. The second character is in the word "genkan," 玄関、which means entryway or opening-space. Together, these two kanji (yuu and gen) describe the subtle feeling of profound meaning we get from certain works of poetry, dance, music, art. It's also an important aspect of wabi-sabi aesthetic. Wabi-sabi (good link) is the Japanese idea of beauty in imperfection, beauty in the old and rotting and transient, beauty in the glaringly true, and its particular to Japan, an outward expression of an inner cultural value and acceptance (the spiritual flavor of the japanese mind appearing in the art). At the beginning of tea ceremony we first bow to and honor the dead tree branch, or cracked flower vase, or wilting flower, all of which are "beautiful" in a wabi-sabi kind of way, and all of which can be powerful symbols (with dreamy meanings and transformative energies) in a yuugen kind of way. Nothing profound is necessary with Yuugen, though. Yuugen is just a subtle feeling of meaning, suggested lightly within, like a distant sound of a ship-horn, or a tiny coincidence, or a long-lost memory suddenly appearing like a ghost in a dream....
That's the Japanese theme of this show. The English theme, Subtle Worlds, I'll let you decide what it means. (although I'll just say that if you could see the series together you'd notice they all contain subtle gradations of color. I love subtle gradations..)

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