Yūgen Project Series.
New series about oracle bone script (koukotsu moji) connected with American Abstract Expressionism and European Art Informel.
Yūgen: an ancient word that originally comes from Chinese poetry, but it has been adapted to Japanese aesthetics, it describes not only poetic verse but also natural beauty and artistic beauty. The word itself doesn’t describe beauty directly, it describes the feeling that you’re having when you see something beautiful or hear something profound.
An analogy to understand yūgen better could be: a fresh breeze in a Summer night, cherry blossoms bloomed, suddenly the wind blows through the trees and the petals start to scatter like rain, the feeling you have in that moment is yūgen.
The word is made by two kanji, yū 幽 graceful, elegant.
玄 mysterious, profound, deep.
Together they describe a sense of subtle profundity, or graceful elegance. That is evoked and seen by the heart and not the eyes.
Pure visual rhythm to be "read" as a haiku.
The painting is a language that the public has to decipher, and they put part of themselves when they “read” it. It’s an experience of mystery that cannot be put in words hence an ideal philosophical term for an aesthetic experience but also an ideal aesthetic term for a philosophical experience. As the haiku has its rhythm and structure, the painting could have its kireji (切れ字) or pause, made to meditate about the experience of becoming part of the interlocution.
As Emilio Vedova once said: “The artists deliver their idea of reality.” And this is sums up my aspiration for the Yūgen Project.
Growing up in Buenos Aires, with different languages and traditions, every time that I stepped into my grandparents households, I was transported into the world they knew as children, full of their stories growing up and family histories.
In order to understand more about them, before I was able to travel and see it all with my own eyes, I had books, Japanese school, Italian school, undokai, bazaars, attended Japanese associations with their classes of shodō, ikebana, ukiyo-e, dance, sushi, and Italian consulate activities, my grandfather sitting at the kitchen table reading Dante Alighieri or listening to opera or pop music from the 1960’s.
I got to live in the land of my maternal grandfather, the Veneto region for many years. But even if I was able to visit Okinawa, (the land where both of my Japanese grandparents were born) I wasn’t not able to break completely the seal of mystery that surrounds Japan.
I have been studying several Japanese art techniques and language. Memories of my childhood folding origami with my grandmother during her breaks while tending her dry cleaner store come to my mind. With golden papers that my grandfather would collect from his cigarette packs I would fold them diagonally and then tear away the smaller rectangle at the base of the triangle to make the paper square, which is the base for any traditional origami.
With the hot ironing machines on, the boiler lit right next to my ojiisan’s chair (my grandfather) would unfold the La Plata Hochi and I would try reading his Japanese newspaper, and later on he would show me all the different steps to write the kanji that caught my attention because of their aesthetics or because I liked their meanings.
I always had a curiosity for where every day words originated, my Italian grandfather Giovanni who spoke many languages used a more complex vocabulary than the people around, he would use words that I didn’t understand so I would ask: ”Abuelo, what does that mean?” And he reply would always be: “Agarrá el mata-burros”, get the “donkey-killer” (burro means ignorant in colloquial Castilian). I would get any of the two volume dictionary from the shelves, and look for the definition of the word and its etymology.
A few years ago when I had to give away my grandmother’s things in Buenos Aires, I found notebooks, pads and loose papers with lists on them of words in Japanese and Spanish. All neatly written in kanji. I would spend hours trying to look for the number of strokes and then look the characters up in one of the old kanji books that my aunt Yoko gave me when I was in elementary school.
It stuck with me through the years, even though, nowadays looking up a word is a click of the mouse. This is the reason why I decided to look for the etymology of kanji (Japanese characters) or Hanzi (Chinese characters).
We can’t talk about Japanese kanji history without looking at the Hanzi, there are characters created in Japan called kokuji, but the majority have their roots in China.
To my surprise it goes back over three-five thousand years. Each character went through an evolution from pictograms, morphemes, referents and ideograms.
On the Yūgen series I am interested in painting the regression of certain characters linked to my family history, zen philosophy characters, interesting words that like my grandmother I make lists of.
Chinese and Japanese people know how to read kanji and hanzi, but they don’t normally know the etymology of the characters found in tortoise shells, animal bones, Bronze period vessels, or seal scripts since the modern characters have been through many forms.
One of the remarkable things that I found in this research was that many of these symbols are closer than we though. A more thorough investigation into early trans-Pacific interaction should bring to light that the Chinese had some contact with Native people. In the manuscript written by John Ruskamp, Jr has identified over 82 petroglyphs matching unique ancient Chinese scripts not only at multiple sites in Albuquerque, New Mexico, but also nearby in Arizona, as well as in Utah, Nevada, California, Oklahoma, and Ontario.
Ritratti Polifisionomici/ Polyphysiognomic portraits
Portraits inspired on photo-dynamism from the Bragaglia brothers, and Eadweard Muybridge and Etienne Marey chrono-photography.
"Cass, the Cat" series