２年目に入った学期の半ばでMFA (Master of Fine Arts) 候補生再審査というものがあります。この時に卒論のアウトラインを１ページほどにまとめて提出し、このアウトラインと作品を元に学部の全教授との口頭試験が行われます。
SABI: INFLUENCES AND INTENTION
Two Japanese artists influenced my concerns. One is Masami Teraoka and the other is Atsushi Ishida. Teraoka, who lives in the United States, uses " the visual language of the Japanese ukiyo-e print, which serves the dual purpose of expressing his roots and being an aesthetic vehicle for his statement."
The worlds of Utamaro and Sharaku are updated by Teraoka. While Utamaro and Sharaku depict the worlds of decadent Japanese society. Teraoka deals with contemporary issues like the environment and AIDS. he successfully combines Japanese art with occidental and even worldside issues.
Ishida, on other hand, employs a different way to combine East and West in art. In Japan he was trained to paint in a traditional style. However, he gave up traditional painting and now uses contemporary images that seem to be influenced by minimalism. He first covers a sheet of paper with layers of charcoal. The surface of the paper becomes a rich velvery-black. Then a small part of the charcoal is romoved so that the surface of the paper emerges. The drawings have a meditative and calm quality. Despite the contemporary look and western imagery, Ishida's intention is to express the Japanese aesthetics of "wabi" (the pleasing effect of melancholy repose) and "sabi"
A seed of the combination in my art of Japanese origin and my adult western experience started to form through these two artists' works and ideas. Around the spring of 1990 by chance I read an old issue of House Beautiful
which especially dealt with Japanese traditions and taste. One article about the tea ceremony interested me most. I was surprised to learn that a great deal of our tradition was derived from the tea ceremony.
In his book Sado no Tetsugaku ( Philosophy of Tea Ceremony) Shinich Hisamatsu, a Japanese philosopher and tea ceremony practitioner, defines the charactaristics of the tea ceremony in four ethics ( harmony, esteem, purity and calmness) and seven philosophies (asymmetry, simplicity, wizened austerity, naturalness, subtle profoundness, unconditioned freedom, and calmness) At first I tried to deal with these ethics and philosophies but gradually I realized that it is hard to render them in a single visual form. I reexamined and reread Hisamatsu's book and clarified my thought. My initial attempt had been confined to expressing merely rule or process and not the underlying significance. The assthetic called "sabi" is the terminal state of mind for the people who practice the tea ceremony. I realized what I should hav deal with was the larger sense of "sabi".
I interpret "sabi" as calmness of mind and meditation. When Juko Murata established the tea ceremony in the end of the fifiteen century, Japan was in the middle of terrible war. The ritual act of tea ceremony provided a "refuge and a haven of tranquility" for the warlord. Much of the contemporay world also offers upheaval nad stress. We really need to have a moment of calmness of mind. In this respect "sabi" is relevant to centemporay life.