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Yūgen 幽玄

January 18, 2018

Yūgen is a Japanese aesthetic quality that describes profound grace and subtlety. 

 

Perhaps this poem best conveys a feeling of yūgen...

 

"To watch the sun sink behind a flower clad hill.

To wander on in a huge forest without thought of return. To stand upon the shore and gaze after a boat that disappears behind distant islands. To contemplate the flight of wild geese seen and lost among the clouds.

And, subtle shadows of bamboo on bamboo." 

                                                                    -Zeami Motokiyo

 

I was inspired for this painting during a recent trip to Okinawa. In my free time I would explore the island's tropical coastline in search of reefs to free dive and igneous cliff lines to paint. Time and time again I would confront fisherman settled amidst razor sharp volcanic ledges, casting out over the coral clad reefs.  I explored some of their winding pathways and chiseled hand grips with paints in tow and discovered some awesome lookouts. 

 

They were always there, fishing...

 

I tried to capture a sense of yuugen with this lone fisherman fading off into the ocean's mist. The fisherman will disappear and reappear depending on the lighting on the painting. I wanted the foreground to resemble the coral reef that he casts into. In a sense, a fisherman becomes his lure as he casts off into the depths. 

 

 

 

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