Mount Fuji with Cherry Trees in Bloom
after Hokusai

I was contacted by my friend LP to do something nice for her bedroom, with lots of flowers. Initially she wanted KiOku painting, but since that was commissioned by someone else, we agreed to do custom painting that will fit her wall perfectly. She lives in a small place near Berlin and she wants to wake up and see the flowers… lots of flowers. While trying to figure out what would be perfect for her, I was struggling between Utamaro´s views of geisha with cherry blossoms or just covering the entire canvas with thousands of my sakura flowers. It was middle March and the blossom was hitting all the trees in Sarajevo. We have a real variety of trees that bloom in spring and my favorites are magnolia (pink and yellow) and sakura, followed by plum and apple blossoms that come later on. I was looking for simple composition, something that will have some landscape depth but nothing that will put overshadow blossom.

I found this beautiful surimono (custom ordered print) of Fuji with cherry blossom by Hokusai in my digital ukiyo-e stock archive. It fitted the dimensions of the wall. The thing is there were two sources to this print- one from the Art Institute of Chicago and the other one from the British Museum (trimmed) and they both deteriorated in color, while the one from the British Museum lacks layer with Mt Fuji and it is trimmed on the top. To make things more complicated the white sakura flowers were blind printed into paper, therefore now practically invisible. But the composition was great- the mist gives this fake depth of the field and Mt Fuji gives it a nice counter balance.

Now, you may ask yourself why I made polyptych with uneven canvases. The first 3 canvases were enough for the wall and this small panel on the left is intended to be placed somewhere else. So I took this one step further and framed canvas in a way where each canvas can be seen as an independent painting or be placed as diptych. This gives great flexibility to this painting in terms of placing at home.

For colors I used 3 shades of gold, grading them from light above to darker bellow, pearl for the mist and 6 different red to pink colors for the flowers, combined with white and beige. For the body of Mt Fuji I used turquoise that will, with the gold in the background, reflect more blue or green depending on different lighting. I did retraced the flower fields as done by Hokusai, but during the painting process I decided to ditch leaves in favor of flowers and even  add more flowers, especially in the first panel, because not always “more is less”, sometimes more is more.

Technique: acrylic on canvas

Size: polyptych 208×80 cm (81.88 x 31.49inch)

2x 60x80cm (23.62×31.49 inch), 66x80cm (25.98×31,49inch) & 22x80cm (8.66×31.49 inch)

Year: March 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.“