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Suibokuga/Sumi-e is what?

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Leonardo daVinci’s classic icon “Mona Lisa” has no outline. Why? The answer is his words, "Every single thing reincarnates."A 13th century Japanse philosopher, Chomei Kamo said a famous phrase in "Hojouki", "Water keeps rolling, no water stays there". Water is not ejectable. Associated with the container, water changes its shape. He painted the fascinated woman’s figure with his unique sfmato technique. The contour of the object is fading off just into the beginning of another object line. The outline of “Mona Lisa” dissolves into the river painted around the figure. If he metaphorically painted water for something, the Monalisa shape is a container. The painting embodies an image(Midori Wakakuwa). The sense of evanescent expressed by acient Japanese monks stands out no more than Davinci held "the splash of fertile humanity(Sachio Yashiro)". The abundant humanity out of the expierience, however, would keep him in the marginal area. I have not met the intiment

In suibokuga, or sumi-e painting, you will not draw the line. Yet, the thirteen centuries Sumi-e painters drew the line so do the twenty one century's manga, comics. Professor Tadashi Kobayashi pointed out that in sixteenth century, the line grew to be area form which Professor Kobayashi calls "a mask line". The gifted painter like Sotatsu Tawaraya used baggy thick stroke to express object like a green bean. One thick stroke would become one green bean itself. The other important point Professor Kobayashi told is that Sotatsu would never try the "stereo-painting" effect. Like ukiyo-e or Takashi Murakami's Super Flat concept, Sotatsu simplified the shade and light and showed two-dimensonal expression. Davinci tried to show the realistic shape on canvas by sfmato technique. Davinci and Sotatsu tried to dissolve the outline on their artwork. However, they achieved an opponent approach in terms of their aim. In short, Japanese sumi-e painters simplified object and Davinci tried get it real on canvas.

I moved on suibokuga, or sumi-e, not because of Japanese proud "simplified" art, but "stereo-painting", the cubical technique with one simple stroke. The modern sumi-e has acquired the historical progress, with which it apparted from the flat expression. It appears a cubic expression on the paper. The light, shade and shape eject with one stroke.

The sfmato technique of sumi-e is achieved by water perspiration. The edge of the shape remains in vague by an uncontrollably water dynamism. This is the sumi-e painters’ humbleness and the reflection of the respect for the nature. “Logos” of Helakureitos, “Idea” of Pluto, the Substance in the ontology, Suibokuga painters express the hidden Substance out of vague edge line with water and black ink.

The edge line of black ink exists the end of water perspiration area. Painters reconstruct their recognition. In epistemology, the truth and belief has difference. Painters usually end drawing where they believe that the shape of the object ends. But in Suibokuga, painters can not control the edge line of the shape because of the water perspiration. Therefore, water move exposures the hidden truth of recognition of the existence, the substance of the un-recognition. That is, they see the Mu, whereas to non being. Where the Mu exists in suibokuga works? You can see it in the blanc on paper. Qualia is born.

Drawing is the expression of artists. However, suibokuga paiters emboss the substance of Mu by retaining blanc part on paper. What is the Mu in suibokuga art? That is emotion. The emotion is quivering between the painter and the watcher. Mu is deliberative and intention.

Without the attention, can the art be Mu? That is Kyo, hollow, vacant. Kyo exists all around the nature. The mountain dew or waterfall has kept splashed before the human being starts adventure. The art without attention is like this waterfall. Kyo is nature and out of intention.

Mu is not “no being”. Mu is the existence of the infinity. Therefore, every single person has different Mu in his/her inside. Painters try to correspond the emotional dynamics in the Mu field with watchers. Only with consistence among their intense,

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Thanks, cicada or dragonfly might be thought just a bug :) but interesting motif for me. Bamboo seems like global preferable. and I like this cultural differences.


Posted by: Kazu | September 08, 2009 at 10:51 AM

What a wonderful site! I've just subscribed to your RSS feeds, and look forward to going through your site more thoroughly after I post this. I found you when doing a Search for Asian art with cicada and bamboo (I am trying to identify the artist of an old calendar picture I have), and what a lovely surprise to find you!


Posted by: Barbara | September 07, 2009 at 04:45 AM

thanks for the message, and grad to hear that you enjoyed my sumi-e works.
to fix wrinkled and warped paper, I do the process called Ura-uchi, litterary behind reinforce.

this is the easy way to do

supplys: glue, paper(up to you how thick or thin), water, sprayer.iron

1. Moisten your work totally
2. Spread the glue the paper you prepared
3. Stick the glued paper on the behind your work
4. Sprayer over the face of your work.
5. Ironing over the paper to aovid wrinkling
6. Wait until getting dry

I leave this process to the professional when I paint a big paper.
But, around 30cm*30cm size, I will do it by myself.
So, just try it, use lots of water is the key to sucess.

Posted by: Kazu Shimura | June 07, 2008 at 02:19 PM

Hi there-
My mother's birthday is coming up and I want to paint a sumi-e picture for her. But all of the ones I've done so far end up wrinkled and warped. How do I make my paintings flat so that I can mount them? I would appreciate it if you could help me.
PS- Your paintings are beautiful and inspirational to me as an artist. Thank you for your gorgeous artwork and your videos.

Posted by: Erica | May 07, 2008 at 10:20 AM

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