Beginnings II

 Makoto Fujimura

Makoto Fujimura

 "In the Beginning"

“It’s not where you take things from - it’s where you take them to."  Jean-Luc Godard  

In thinking about my development as a painter, it's a bit like looking at a large pot of stew simmering on the stove: I see chunks of potato, and (oh!) there's a carrot...but what's that red lump? Oh yes, I remember..." There are so many elements that have come together and are still coming together (I'm not dead yet!) to inform and shape what I do. That's what is challenging and really fun about creativity, and I hope I never, ever loose it...that childlike sense of curiosity and awe I feel at seeing something new.  And of those sources of inspiration, some of them really stand out and have radically shaped what you do. 

One of those sources for me is Makoto Fujimura. Fujimura’s work is represented by Artrue International and has been exhibited at galleries around the world, including Dillon Gallery in New York, Sato Museum in Tokyo, The Contemporary Museum of Tokyo, Tokyo National University of Fine Arts Museum, Bentley Gallery in Arizona, Gallery Exit and Oxford House at Taikoo Place in Hong Kong, and Vienna’s Belvedere Museum.  (He's a busy guy.)

His work is really mesmerizing to me. And like the Orthodox icons that got me started painting on metal, he paints on gold leaf using hand-ground pigments and centuries-old Japanese techniques. He paints with amazing color -- sometimes subtle, sometimes intense, but what's cool is that he's taken something ancient and made it new and this encouraged me to do the same (but I obviously went in a very different direction). What I love about his pieces is that though they are abstract and are beautiful in their execution, they mean something. He is so adept at combining deep, spiritual meaning into a piece, and it's fascinating to study his art and try to figure out the meaning (before I cheat and look at the title). His art doesn't just "take you somewhere else" but makes you think and feel. I really like that. 

When I began my own technique several years ago, I tried to take on that symbolism in my work, and believe me, it's not at all easy. My first series was a group of seven large art pieces based on the first week of Creation (each painting symbolizing what happened on that day per the account in the Book of Genesis). Encouraged by the results, I tackled Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, carefully listening over and over again to each of the four movements and trying to figure out how to illustrate a four part piece of music with a set of four paintings. Very challenging. All that was a wonderful experiment, but I eventually ended up returning to abstract and landscape art...but now with new "tools in my tool belt" so to speak.  

So the work I do now, though also painted on metallic leaf, is nothing like Mako's work and you'd probably never guess he has influenced me so greatly, but the idea that art can emotionally draw you in and make you deeply think -- that came from Mako Fujimura. So...thank you Mako!