Beauty of Tragic Elegance
物の哀れ (mono no aware), freely translated as ”Gentle sadness”, an old aesthetic term that is used typically in classical Japanese literature and poetry during Heian period. It’s translation with exact terms in English or other languages is difficult, since its meaning varies in context from the “pathos of things” to “an empathy towards something”, or pointing in general to overwhelming, “hearth breaking”, feelings caused by the time, place or state of affairs. It is mainly used in a negative meaning, such as indicating misery or wretchedness of life as well as pitiful feelings, sympathy or compassion, emphasizing its sense of the “beauty of tragic elegance”. But on the other hand, it may also indicate something the most sweetest and elegant ever.
In Japanese culture, the sensibility for passing of time and its beauty has a long history. Perhaps one of the most famous example of this is Court lady Sei Shōnagon’s opening lines in the Pillow Book (completed ca. 1002), in which she describes elegant and beautiful things that moves our hearth and mind deeply. These lines have gained almost an iconic status in the studies of Japanese aesthetics and beauty in arts, and many educated persons know them by hearth:
“In spring it is the dawn that is most beautiful. As the light creeps over the hills, their outlines are dyed a faint red and wisps of purplish cloud trail over them.
In summer the nights. Not only when the moon shines, but on dark nights too, as the fireflies flit to and fro, and even when it rains, how beautiful it is!
In autumn, the evenings, when the glittering sun sinks close to the edge of the hills and the crows fly back to their nests in threes and fours and twos; more charming still is a file of wild geese, like specks in the distant sky. When the sun has set, one's heart is moved by the sound of the wind and the hum of the insects.
In winter the early mornings. It is beautiful indeed when snow has fallen during the night, but splendid too when the ground is white with frost; or even when there is no snow or frost, but it is simply very cold and the attendants hurry from room to room stirring up the fires and bringing charcoal, how well this fits the season's mood! But as noon approaches and the cold wears off, no one bothers to keep the braziers alight, and soon nothing remains but piles of white ashes.” […]
Based on the awareness of aware as an aesthetic concept, I describe in my works these floating moments of live, sadness or misery; sympathy or compassion, by combining elements of nature with old Japanese photographs. These photographs contain old family albums especially from Kyoto, but also old photographs on theatre or film actors, as well as still pictures from old Japanese films. In some series, I have used also still images from Buster Keaton silent movies. By using these borrowed images I have made photomontages combining them with natural motifs and objects, such as flowers, leaves, seeds etc., from Finland and Japan. With these pictures, I wish to express the sense of temporality of life: the passing of time and moments that through these pictures will find an eternal form in my art.
Works are pigment prints and the used paper material varies from AIJP papers from Awagami Factory to many other Fine Art Inkjet papers from Europe. Some works are presented also with Fotosec and Diasec form.
Quite recently, I was working at Awagami Factory / Fuji Paper Mills Cooperative at Tokushima. At that time I was testing all AIJP washi paper materials specially made for pigment printmaking in small and big size with Epson printers.
While working in Finland, I am mainly using Canon Image Prograf printers with AIJP papers.
Present and future challenges
Right now I am working with some series widening the presentation from pictures to Japanese style of byōbu or tsuitate screens, and moreover, to even kiribako boxes made by Mr. Shigeki Fujiwara from Kamojima. Some of these new works have been already displayed in Tokushima, Japan at The Hall of Awa, the Japanese Handmade Paper Center, on May 2012. This is the same exhibition that I have now chance to show in Helsinki, Finland.
At the moment I am also challenging to work with book binding by the instruction of Erja Huovila from Fiskars. In the new series, I wish to combine new with traditional Japanese form and through that to create new series of art containing books, scrolls and screen.
I am looking forward to have a chance to display these works in the near future either in Finland or in Japan, or even in both countries.
I am also going to expand my knowledge on Japanese aesthetics terms and find a new ways of interpreting them through my art.
Special thanks for:
Arts Promotion Centre, Helsinki Finland.
Scandinavia-Japan Sasakawa Foundation, Helsinki Finland.
Frame Visual Art, Helsinki Finland.
Awagami Factory, Tokushima Japan.
Mr. Shigeki Fujiwara, Tokushima Japan.
Canon Suomi, Helsinki Finland.
Marja Hepo-Aho Mafka, Riihimäki Finland.
Erja Huovila Paperitalo, Fiskars Finland.
Print Lab / Aalto University, Helsinki Finland.
Jussi-Pekka Arkkola, Canson Infinity.
Fine Art Printing Hanart, Järvenpää Finland.
Minna Eväsoja, Tapiola Finland.