Thursday, May 28, 2009

Not Just Sushi

Up until 15 minutes ago, if someone said "Wabi-Sabi" to me, I would think "We're going to a sushi restaurant on Abbott Kinney." And I would be excited.

But now, thanks to some furious Wikipeding, I have seen the light. Wabi-Sabi is actually a Japanese philosophical aesthetic centered around the concept of transience and impermanence. According to Wikipedia, the Wabi-Sabi aesthetic is "sometimes described as one of beauty that is 'imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete'" and features of art in this vein include "asymmetry, asperity, simplicity, modesty, intimacy, and suggest a natural process."

Cool. I bet our Ikebana sensei Kyoko Kassarjian could explain Wabi-Sabi to me, since Ikebana is apparently one of the art forms in which it figures prominently.

I did this research to help me understand the amazing art of Shinichi Maruyama. Maruyama tosses black ink and water together, both in the air and on paper, and uses photography to capture the moment when the two liquids meet but have not yet combined. This practice is the epitome of Wabi-Sabi, illustrating the beauty of a moment in time that is incomplete and unfinished. There is a longer statement on the website that explains the theory behind the work, but I think the images are powerful even without this reference point. To me they are very evocative of the natural world and its constant cycle of change and renewal.

Shinichi Maruyama via Urlesque


Irene said...

This reminds me of that PJ Harvey album cover, the one for Rid Of Me. Hmmm. Art directors are smart.

Cristina Markarian said...

Yes! With her waterlogged hair flipping up in the air! Totally.