WORDSWORTH AND BASHO: WALKING POETS
There is nothing in common between these historic poets: William Wordsworth and Matsuo Bashō, except walking for their creative inspiration. After being invited to participate in this project, I explored the essential link between them in their poems and life. "Walking Poets" is my attempt for their dialogue beyond time and space, language and culture...
Excerpts from the exhibition catalogue
Over the past decade Sobue has developed an original new brush hatching technique, using Japanese sumi ink and acrylic, which is inspired by the concept of disegno, a term from the Florentine Renaissance derived from the Italian word for drawing or design. This is an approach he has combined with his ongoing interest in neurological studies. Sobue’s aim is to create a platform bridging east and west and delving into the core meaning of the human act of seeing.
For this project, Sobue has created a quadriptych work using four aluminium plates, representing a Japanese traditional fusuma-e (sliding door painting). He has portrayed Wordsworth and Basho facing each other across time and space, culture and language. As a way of visually linking the two poets, he has depicted a maple tree. The maple appears in poems composed by Bashō and it was a tree loved by Wordsworth too; indeed he planted Japanese maple trees in his garden at Rydal Mount.
In order to get a true likeness of Basho, Sobue referred to a number of paintings of him but found that none had pictorial authenticity. However, he eventually discovered that one of Basho’s favourite disciples, Kyoriku, had left a portrait of Basho with his disciple Sora on the trip for the ‘Narrow Road to the Deep North’, which Sobue believed to be the most authentic Likeness of the poet. With regard to his posture, Sobue referred to the work of Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, the prominent Ukiyoe artist working at the end of Edo period. The gold colour in the background was, however, inspired by Japanese traditional paintings. Gold leaf was often used to express the importance of a patron, but Sobue has used gold acrylic paint instead to portray the two poets’ humble and naturalistic lifestyles which were reflected in their poetry.
Special thanks to
I owe a deep debt of gratitude to Mr Peter Elkington, the former director & curator of Rydal Mount. Peter provided the special event for the unveiling of the work before it was shipped to Japan to raise fund for my travel.