Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Little everyday tsunami

Hokusai lost everything. Starting over at a time when he should have been taking life at a slower pace, he kept making art. It was after this time that he achieved his greatest success. Strange to think that we know him best for his archetypal image ‘The Great Wave Off Kanagawa’, which he created as an old man, after he had worked all his life as an artist. An image which he created several times in different perspectives.

We all have our archetypes as artists. Our themes, the stuff we like to draw over and over. Sometimes we know why we repeat the images. Perhaps we like the form, or it reminds us of a happy moment, or we are confident creating it and we want to tap into that confidence. Other times, we may not know why we draw something repeatedly. The meaning might emerge at a later time, or it may not.

As kids we copy and repeat images to learn how to master our skills. That’s part of our development. At some stage we build our own repertoire of images we love to draw. For Hokusai, the wave is a cultural and historical representation of the time in which he lived. It’s a powerful reminder of nature’s effect on our human lives.

For me, the wave is a little bit of a tsunami in everyday life. Scattered down the supermarket aisle, looming on the meeting table at work or rising in your own bath at home, the wave can show up, unassuming and gentle or as a tremendous threat to the moment. Thankfully, everyday tsunamis eventually just become calm pools of water. Just like Hokusai, we keep going, doing what we love and making images about it.

(Hokusai (1760-1849) was a Japanese artist producing work in the Edo period)

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