Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Perfect Gift Revealed

We actually pulled the surprise off with the gift given to Phil and Lisa. Now I can talk about it. The gift is an original art piece by Makoto Fujimura, Phil's favorite artist. They already have prints of his work, but, as they well know, a print cannot do justice to the original. Here is info about the painting and the artist, sent by the White Stone Gallery director. White Stone is in Manayunk and is the gallery where we purchased the painting. Fujimura's works are still being displayed there.

The text in "Olana View" comes from Matthew 6:19 -25 with a small portion of verse 26. Makoto Fujimura wrote all the way from the very top of the painting through to the very last space he could write. That is why the verse is cut off. There was no more room.

19"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
22"The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. 23But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
24"No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.
25"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not

Below are some other pieces of information that I (Susan Cook) gathered about the painting. The quotes are from Mako and articles about the series.

“It’s a series of devotional pieces that I’ve done in the past two years or so. I usually don’t show pieces like these except to private parties because they are deeply personal pieces and almost like a pilgrimage rather than focused on a specific theme.”

He said the name of the show was inspired by the Psalms, “wrestling with the words and what they mean to me as an artist, father and husband.” “Olana” refers to his inspiring visit to the place in upstate New York of that name, the former estate of Hudson River painter Fredrick Church.

Fujimura uses the ancient Japanese technique Nihonga, which he studied in Japan. The aesthetics of the time period were deeply spiritual as well. Fujimura attempts to encapsulate this in his pieces. Having been taught as a student in Japan, that one must use the best materials in order to truly get to know the ancient craft, he began using the finest gold and minerals he could purchase. Fujimura is now considered one of the most important mid-career painters working in the "Nihonga" (Japanese painting) style. He is recognized both in the United States and Japan for his contribution to the revitalization of this ancient technique, as his innovations have inspired an entire generation of artists to follow in his style.

Fujimura anticipated different reactions to his exhibit, as well as a universal reaction of hope: “I hope if my work is successful that people will bring their own journeys and stories into them, that the works will become a catalyst for their journey. My work is not just for Christians, but for anyone who is willing to journey deeper into the issues of humanity.”

“After exhibiting so many times in New York and Japan, my journey has become more apparent. I realized that the time and culture has changed in the past five years to accommodate a dialogue of faith in public spheres. I felt openness in the culture, particularly in a gallery like White Stone Gallery in Philadelphia — I felt I could do something new that I had not done before.”

Fujimura admitted his faith journey was an “ongoing process” before 9/11, but “it accelerated since then.” “After 9/11, there was a deep wrestling that I went through about Ground Zero: What is the role of an artist in a very broken world? Maybe this series is one of the responses to that question.”

The painting "Olana View" is between 40 - 60 layers of natural mineral pigments (ground to a powder and mixed with Japanese glue), gold leaf, and layers of kumohoda paper. It took approximately one year to create because of the drying time of each layer. The painting actually appears differently as the intensity of the light in the room changes or the viewing angle changes.

"Olana View" is one of the paintings from the series that shows the influence of the landscape from Fujimura's visit to Olana. From different angles the white layer appears to almost float above the painting like clouds. There is a small moon painted in the third gold square down from left top. It is right above the black horizontal lines. There is a large "leaf" in shape and color at the bottom of the piece.

For a bio of Fujimura click here.  Also check out White Stone Gallery.

Artist's statement about the "Olana: Psalms of Ascent" series.


Blogger C.Brubaker said...

A perfect gift. Thanks for letting us enjoy watching it be given.

9:35 AM  

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