Thursday, February 17, 2005

Japan-O-Phile

I was a weird and obsessive kid. This is not all bad (although there are undeniable drawbacks). With the possibility of coolness being unobtainably remote I had the freedom to fully explore my more idiosyncratic interests. One especially pronounced manifestations of my oddity was my "Japanese Stage". This occurred in my late pre-teen years and was triggered by the airing of the Shogun mini-series. I became instantly fixated and got my hands on the book, which I subsequently read two and a half times (two and a half times because it's a very big book, and by the time I was half way through my third reading my obsession had run its course).

This led to a general fascination with all things old and Japanese. For two years I ate everything with chopsticks including Cheerios and ice cream. I got my own Ninja outfit and snuck around the house scaring the living bejeezus out of my mother. I built an ornamental rock garden in the middle of a field. And I got really into traditional Japanese art.

The specific artist I became obsessed with was Hiroshige. My dear old aunt, Annou (also an avowed Japan-o-phile and enabler of my addiction), gave me a book of his work, and I was hooked. It mostly contained landscapes and city scenes:



It also included portraits:



which I then tried to emulate with imperfect success:



Having recently returned to drawing later in life, I started thinking about those pictures again and was just able to reacquire the book (thanks, Mom). Looking at them I realize how much they burrowed into my brain. Although the connection is not deliberate or explicit (and certainly the content is very different) they have clearly had an impact on the pictures I try to create right down to my fondness for narrow, black line drawings and solid, flat colors. And talk about colors, I love Hiroshige's colors, the complex blues and greens and really good greys and yellows. Mmm!

Anyway, I like them. Hopefully you'll like them. There you have it.

3 comments:

  1. Not sure if you're going to be reading comments that are this old...but...

    I LOVE Hiroshige! Some of his stuff is so beautiful it makes me want to cry. It's not often that I find a Hiroshige like minded person.

    Great Blog by the way.

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  2. I am, and thank you.

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  3. craic-head10:24 PM

    Got here by way of your 12.9.07 demitasse post...just in case you missed it (this past week, nonetheless), there is an official day of the year to celebrate that ninja stage of your life all over again.

    Scaring the crap out of moms is optional.

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