Both the history and development of these ancient forms are fascinating. Kanji, having been derived from Chinese pictographs and ideograms, tell an interesting story in themselves. It is a challenge to capture the essence of what each character means.
Traditionally, kanji is written - or rather painted - using black ink. As colour has such a strong power to evoke mood, atmosphere and emotion, the possibility of its use provided a means to portray kanji in a new way. The use of texture also enabled me to further communicate its meaning.
From a compositional point of view, kanji is an intriguing subject to work with due to its endless variation of open spaces within its form. Over the past ten years in my painting I have been exploring the relationship between the object and its surrounding space. Perhaps this was the initial reason I decided to paint kanji - a rather abstract departure from my previously more figurative painting. With the absence of animal and human forms- my former subject matter - my concentration lay more directly on the subtle changes in energy existing between shapes. I was very pleased to learn that in shodo, the calligraphy of kanji, one must pay close attention to the open spaces as well as the lines themselves. Though my approach to painting it is completely different, herein exists a commonality.
It has been very interesting for me to share my vision with Japanese people. I enjoy watching their expressions as they work out what I was trying to portray in each painting. Though my means of communication is rather limited due to my lack of command of the Japanese language, I believe that I have found another method to convey an idea.
As I started to work larger onto washi or rice paper, I found an exciting new dimension in creating kanji painting: luminosity - enlightenment. When light passes through the washi paper, the colours and textures come alive in another way. This discovery inspired me to select kanji which I feel impart a positive message:
LOVE - FORGIVENESS - PATIENCE - UNDERSTANDING - COMPASSION
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