Monday, November 14, 2016

Spencer Folkins writes

Pleasant Memories from Lives I Never Lived

I walk 
beside a ditch, has
various breeds of litter 
strewn throughout

     chip bags,
     take-out containers
create tiny obstacles;
islands in an
industrialized sea

half an orange 
peel abandoned among 
mud and gravel, hug the
dusty roadside, I think

How sweet it 
must have been

 The Plastic Oceans -- Bonnie Monteleone [after Hokusai]

Kanagawa-oki nami ura (The Great Wave off Kanagawa) -- Katsushika Hokusai


  1. Short n sweet. Modern japanese poetry? Paintings r misrepresentation of loss of beauty

  2. Katsushika Hokusai's father may have been was the shogun's mirror-maker, Nakajima Ise. "Tokitarō" (as he was known as a child) began painting around the age of six; at 14 he became an apprentice to a wood-carver, and at 18 he entered the studio of Shunshō Katsukawa, an artist of ukiyo-e ("pictures of the floating world"), a popular style of wood block prints and paintings; after a year, Shunshō, the head of the Katsukawa school, renamed him "Shunrō," who published his first prints, a series of pictures of Kabuki actors, in 1779. When Shunshō died in 1793, Hokusai began exploring other styles of art, including European styles he was exposed to through French and Dutch copper engravings, and may have also studied at the rival Kanō school, for which act of treachery he was expelled from the Katsukawa school by Shunshō's chief disciple Shunkō. Hokusai changed the subjects of his works, moving away from the images of courtesans and actors that were the traditional subjects of ukiyo-e, and focused on landscapes and images of the daily life of Japanese people from a variety of social levels, a major development in the ukiyo-e genre. "What really motivated the development of my artistic style was the embarrassment I suffered at Shunkō's hands," according to Hokusai. Then, as "Tawaraya Sōri," he became associated with the Tawaraya School and produced many brush paintings (surimono) and illustrations for illustrated books of humorous poems (kyōka ehon), but in 1798 he passed his name on to a pupil and set out as "Tomisaan Hokusai," an independent artist for the first time. By 1800, he returned to ukiyo-e, began instructing students of his own, and adopted his best known name, Katsushika (referring to the part of Edo [Tokyo] where he was born) Hokusai ("north studio," an abbreviation of Hokushinsai["north star studio"]). At a Tokyo festival in 1804, he used a broom and buckets full of ink to create a 600-ft (180-m) portrait of the Buddhist priest Daruma. In a famous contest, he painted a blue curve on paper, then chased a chicken whose feet had been dipped in red paint across it, and told the shogun that it was a depiction of the Tatsuta river with red maple leaves floating in it. At 51, in 1811, he became "Taito." In 1812 Taito produced "Quick Lessons in Simplified Drawing," an influential art manual (etehon), and in 1814 created the "manga" genre of sketches or caricatures that influenced the modern form of comics known by the same name; his 15 volumes of manga include thousands of drawings of animals, religious figures, and everyday people. Then, in 1820, he changed his name again; it was as "Iitsu" that he did the ukiyo-e series, "Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji" which included "Great Wave off Kanagawa." Then, in 1834, he became "Gakyō Rōjin Manji" (The Old Man Mad About Art). In his postscript to the series of "One Hundred Views of Mount Fuji" he wrote, "From the age of six, I had a passion for copying the form of things and since the age of fifty I have published many drawings, yet of all I drew by my seventieth year there is nothing worth taking in to account. At seventy-three years I partly understood the structure of animals, birds, insects and fishes, and the life of grasses and plants. And so, at eighty-six I shall progress further; at ninety I shall even further penetrate their secret meaning, and by one hundred I shall perhaps truly have reached the level of the marvellous and divine. When I am one hundred and ten, each dot, each line will possess a life of its own." But a fire in 1839 destroyed Hokusai's studio and much of his work, though he continued painting. When he died at 89, on his deathbed he prayed for another five years so he "could become a real painter."


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