From the Sea
after Hokusai

Mount Fuji viewed from the sea (Kaijō no Fuji) comes from the second volume of the three volumes set of illustrated books (manga) One Hundred Views of Mount Fuji (Fugaku hyakkei). A series that came after Thirty-Six Views of Mt Fuji when Hokusai was around 75 years old and indulged by quirkiness of madness (signature – from the brush of the former Hokusai Itsu changing name to Manji, the old man crazy about painting) and longevity as an artist´s forte (from his manifest – …so that at one hundred years I will have achieved a divine state in my art, and at one hundred and ten, every dot and every stroke will be as though alive… those of you who live long enough, bear witness that these words of mine prove not false) it is no wonder that his landscape art has been dominated and attached to the Mt Fuji (Fuji-yama or the Never-Dying Mountain), a firm manifestation of Shinto deity. In total, with 36 Views + 10 expansions from Fuji from the Rear (Ura-Fuji) and 102 of 100 Views, Hokusai did 148 landscapes inspired by Mt Fuji, both geographical and imaginary.

I chose this one because it is not “the Wave” print. I saw in this print 4 dimensional presentation of the Sea/Time and I think that this is what Hokusai really wanted to show. What we are seeing here is two constants – Mt Fuji and the Sea and we also witness their timelessness. Firstly, let´s start with the presentation- as we know drawing, print and painting is 2D representation of 3D object in figural painting. A recognizable shape of Mt Fuji has been already established as constant and reusable symbol in Hokusai´s dictionary. As for the Sea, we are aware that shapes of the wave crest are treated as dragon fangs, therefore giving divine meaning to the Sea. Now, I am deliberately not using word ocean, so I can avoid connecting this view with another Pacific ocean view. It is the entire ocean, all the sea body and it has been frozen in time. So far this has been 2D presentation. What makes it 4 dimensional is the presentation of birds, but only if you view this is as a single bird represented in time. Now, the 4th dimension is the Time itself, an ability to experience time as single or multiple events immediately. So what we are seeing here is the bird going into full loop starting from the upper right corner of the crest and ending at the trough of the wave, continuing as the wave to emerge from the crest again. In this loop we see all these instances, possibilities, time warps or displacements of the single bird, and not only of the bird, but of the sea as well. If you look at the crest of the wave, there is a shape of something with the wings and crest breaks have been layered almost as feathers. Now we can really appreciate the poetry of this view. The Sea is the source of life, all life comes from the Sea, we are not dust, we are water returning back to the Sea.

Therefore on my painting there was no need for the trees and I think they were put there to make the whole view simpler and more appealing to everyone. And unlike colored prints that were made later, I had no need to depict the sky as there was no need to depict time as a part of the day.

This diptych differs from other paintings in 100 Views of Ukiyo-e by its lack of white bleed of canvas that I had in the previous ones. This is because in the beginning of the building up of the painting I planned it to be framed in white floating frame that will add the whiteness bleed.

I am sure that I will return to this view again.

Technique: acrylic on canvas

Size: diptych 120 x 176 cm
2x 120 x 88 cm

Year: October 2019

Availability: Commissioned / In Private Collection

100 Views of Ukiyo-e: Volume II (2019- )

The first Volume in this series I did as a part of my Magister´s thesis. I started painting in autumn 2009 and finished 25 canvases in the autumn of 2011.  Since then, I have presented the paintings from this series in Europe, US and Japan. But I didn´t continue working on new canvases. I needed some time to distance myself from academia and academic way of thinking. For example, every detail needed to have a reason, to be explained and you end up overthinking things. Freedom and flexibility become lost to a certain degree and the way of thinking and developing of the artwork becomes rigid and empirical. I am not saying that this is bad and I am still methodical in building my artwork, but this leaves a small chance for errors and errors are the ones that bring life to the artwork. Without errors, without a chance of something unexpected, the artwork becomes dull. So I started working on my Great Wave series, which helped me to move away from academia, and also to learn some new “street wise” things. So now, in 2019, I am able to move forward with my 100 Views of Ukiyo-e series. There are no specific techniques, or formats, or themes, or genres, or artists that are predetermined for the second series. I will build it as it comes.

So this is my updated statement – “100 Views of Ukiyo-e is my life mission to re-create new originals of selected 100 Ukiyo-e prints (as) new original paintings in new oban size. It is divided in 4 Volumes of 25 canvases, some of the forming diptychs or triptychs.“