Nature with its intricate beauty and profound mystery has always fascinated us. However, depicting it is entirely a different story, even a fallen leaf…




  Caravaggio once said, "It costs me as much effort to make a good painting of fruit or flowers as of figures." This was a sensational statement, made during the period of western art when he depicted a basket of fruit with the utmost care, as precisely as he depicted figures in the time of Counter-Reformation, which promoted Biblical themed works as sacred art called “Natura Vivente (= living nature)” while “fruit or flowers” were regarded as lower subjects called “Natura Morta (= inanimate nature)”. Thus he elevated ordinary, mundane subjects to the sacred, and vice versa, and revolutionised western art by setting a precedent for a new genre "still life".


I'm always amazed when I see the grand design of nature with its unique texture, colour, diversity and harmonious beauty. Particularly I love to portray "leaves" rather than splendorous "flowers". In the long history of traditional Japanese art, we have embraced the richness of meaning behind those lovable figures in nature, which indicates metaphorically the vanity of this world and fragility of life. It exactly corresponds to the idea of “memento mori (remember your mortality)”, which is seen in the Western ideology, art and culture, especially in the Baroque period when Caravaggio established his unique style as Roberto Longhi the Italian art historian defined as Luminism. For me, portraying leaves and flowers is the way to converse with those masters and the act of contemplation about dignity and fragility of life, mortality and immortality, and light and darkness.



ところで、自然のもつ固有のテクスチャ、色彩、多様性、そしてそれらの絶妙な調和を目にするとき、その造形美の妙にはいつも感動を覚える。殊に、絢爛豪華に咲き誇る花よりもむしろ、ボクは様々な葉のかたちを描くことを好む。ところで、日本の伝統美術には、自然を主題としながらもその背後に深甚な意味を盛り込む歴史がある。それは、この世の栄華の虚しさであり、命の儚さの象徴なのだ。それはまさに西洋美術にも見られる『メメント・モリ (死を想え) 』の思想に符合するもので、ことにバロック美術において顕著である。カラヴァッジオがその独特の様式、すなわち美術史家ロベルト・ロンギが定義したルミニスムを確立したのも、この時代であった。落ち葉や草花など自然の事物を丹念に描く行為は、ボクにとってこれら往年の巨匠たちとの対話そのものであり、生命の尊さと儚さ、死すべきものと永遠に存続するもの、そして光と闇についての黙想なのだ。


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