Wabi Sabi: Impermanence, Art, and a Journey to Japan

Wabi Sabi: Impermanence, Art, and a Journey to Japan

I have long been intrigued by the Japanese concept of wabi sabi, the roots of which can be found in Zen Buddhism. Intrigued longer, it seems, than I have had a name for the idea. This changed shortly after I journeyed through Japan alongside my Japanese art Collector. Wabi sabi is a philosophy that deals with transience, imperfection and the incompleteness of objects that man makes and has been making for all time. Followers of wabi sabi believe that: Nothing lasts Nothing is finished Nothing is perfect I traveled to Japan on two occasions, once in 2007 and once in 2008. One of my Japanese Collectors is a prolific collector of antiquities from around the world. He saw my work at a solo exhibition in London, during the spring of 2006, and purchased a great many of my paintings that year. Soon after, he invited me to Japan to travel with him throughout his country. We journeyed east and west, north and south visiting many museums, fish markets, galleries, and teashops. While traveling with my Japanese Collector, who is well known throughout Japan, I experienced the country in a way very different than many others. At many stops along our winding route we would be served tea in the most wonderfully delicate manner. Amidst a good deal of polite bowing, the tea was always brought out in a beautiful clay pot and small teacups. My eye was drawn to how often the cups might be a bit misshapen or have slight cracks running across the surface. I puzzled over the somewhat irregular glaze. It was not until a friend...
How the Painter Sets the Stage

How the Painter Sets the Stage

When a painter, whether abstract or figurative, begins a painting there is nearly always an awareness of where color will go. How a painter creates an explosion of color on the canvas depends on the working methods of the painter and, to a large extent, the time frame within which the painter paints. In earlier centuries, for the most part, a painting was built up in series of layers using glazes and repeated layers of paint to prepare for the drama that was to unfold whether The subject was Jesus about to be crucified or a Dutch merchant ship sailing into the harbor. In more recent times, as the immediacy of painting became more implicit and the setting up of the ground (or background as most call it), it became a process that was not buried under layers of Paint but rather asserted itself with and against the ‘subject of the painting’ whatever that subject might have been. When Henri Matisse, the grand master of painting in the 20th Century, painted a simple still life of pink and red tulips on a grey green table against a blue grey wall, he would begin Not with the painting of the flowers but the painting of the space around the flowers. A preliminary drawing would be made most often in charcoal and Matisse would begin to fill in the space around things, the space around the flowers. His brush would move quietly, then Pick up speed and drama it would ‘ dance ‘ around the drawing of the flowers. The brushstrokes begin to collide and swim and toss and turn a...
Questions from the Studio – Conversation with Barry Blitt

Questions from the Studio – Conversation with Barry Blitt

Illustrator and Cartoonist Barry Blitt may be best known for his New Yorker covers, but his hidden talent lies in answering questions. I’m sure you’ll find yourself laughing, as I did, over anecdotes from childhood classroom caricatures, the stress of deadlines and the unexpected drawing created while half asleep that put an end to his quest for nighttime inspiration. Gary Komarin: Did you draw a lot as a kid and does that inform what you draw now? Barry Blitt: I sure did draw a lot as a kid. Cartoon characters, hockey players, rock stars. But what probably resonates most with my work today was the mocking caricatures of my school teachers that I scribbled secretly at my desk, for the amusement of my classmates. It may have been Mrs. Herschkopf back then, and Donald Trump today, but the objective was the same. Gary Komarin: How do you get inside the “character” or personality of who you are drawing. Do you need to get “inside” or can you work from the “outside” as it were? Barry Blitt: Um. I’m not particularly psychological in my portraiture (but thanks for asking). Sometimes I just need enough of a likeness to know that the figure is, say, Hillary Clinton, and not Wolf Blitzer. You don’t have to deal with seeing inside the characters in my cartoons, for good or for ill. Gary Komarin: Do you ever struggle to get a certain Face or Body just right………and what do you do if it isn’t working? Barry Blitt: I recently was so frustrated at deadline time with a likeness I couldn’t capture that I actually traced a...
Have Your Cake And Eat It Too: Happiness & Komarin Cakes

Have Your Cake And Eat It Too: Happiness & Komarin Cakes

The concept of Happiness, or the desire to seek Happiness, is a relatively new construct in human development.  All people want to be Happy but few understand what it means to be Happy and how Happiness, or the idea of seeking Happiness, has changed over time. Few people in the Modern Age realize (or appreciate) how very difficult the simple act of survival was in a world without fire, where Humans either ate food they could forage or food of larger, sharper-toothed creatures. Humans, of course, also ate each other; early forms of Cannibalism were more widely practiced around the world than many realize. The Buddhists focus more on a life of peace and simplicity and harmony than they do on seeking Happiness. To quote an expression that I have long liked: Hope for the best, expect the worst. In more recent times Thomas Jefferson, when writing the Declaration of Independence, was very influenced by the writings of John Locke and by the Greek philosopher Epicurus. In the original draft of the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson wrote of the individuals right to: Life, liberty and the pursuit of property. The terms property was changed last minute to the pursuit of happiness, which was a newer term in the lexicon of the time, and one that was not as widely considered, recognized or appreciated. Owning property in the 18th century, to an aristocrat like Jefferson, was extremely important. Jefferson, as well as many of his comrades who were forming this new nation, owned a great deal of property (which was not necessarily theirs to own, as it was already owned by Native Americans, but...
Questions From The Studio – A Conversation with DJ Carey

Questions From The Studio – A Conversation with DJ Carey

DJ Carey and I connected last November for The Art Issue of Connecticut Cottages & Gardens. She was gracious enough to give me some insight into the ups and downs of being the editorial director of a top design magazine.    Gary Komarin: How did you arrive at Connecticut Cottages & Gardens? DJ Carey: In 2004 I was a field scout for Meredith and a stylist working in Connecticut and knew many CT architects who recommended me to Newel Turner, Editorial Director at Cottages & Gardens, for the position of Editor in chief for the soon to be launched Connecticut Cottages & Gardens. Gary Komarin: Were you born with an editorial state of mind? In other words, do you have the organizational gene? Do you need that as editorial director? DJ Carey: I didn’t ever dream or think about being in publishing I literally fell into it! After college, with a degree in anthropology and geography and looking for a job, there was nothing in my field. So my mother, a college professor, suggested I go to Katherine Gibbs and learn how to type and get my foot in the door. After a two-month course at Katherine Gibbs I was sent on an interview at Condé Nast for an entry-level job and the rest is history! I am very organized, which comes in handy when I am putting together an issue or a photo shoot, but I do have to thank both of my parents who gave me skills that I use every day in my position – my mother being the anthropologist taught me to pull back and observe and...