Abstract and Landscape

Abstract and abstract landscape

“Yūgen may be, among generally recondite Japanese aesthetic ideas, the most ineffable. The term is first found in Chinese philosophical texts, where it has the meaning of “dark,” or “mysterious.”

Kamo no Chōmei, the author of the well-known Hōjōki (An Account of my Hut, 1212), also wrote about poetry and considered yūgen to be a primary concern of the poetry of his time. He offers the following as a characerization of yūgen: “It is like an autumn evening under a colorless expanse of silent sky. Somehow, as if for some reason that we should be able to recall, tears well uncontrollably.”

Another characterization helpfully mentions the importance of the imagination: “When looking at autumn mountains through mist, the view may be indistinct yet have great depth. Although few autumn leaves may be visible through the mist, the view is alluring. The limitless vista created in imagination far surpasses anything one can see more clearly” (Hume, Nancy G., ed., 1995, Japanese Aesthetics and Culture: A Reader, Albany: State University of New York Press, pag. 253-254)” in: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/japanese-aesthetics/#5

An abstract painting is a landscape. Maybe you have to make some effort to see it, but it is a landscape in one way or another. My landscapes are abstract and my abstract paintings are landscape. Landscapes of the mind, of the soul or of imagination.

A mountain in a misty surrounding – with clouds covered, fog everywhere, is not a mountain anymore at the first sight. You see something that remember you of a mountain, but if you don’t know that there a mountain is painted, the possibility is great that you doesn’t see one. You see only the colours, not the forms. And you can experience the feeling this picture gives you. The Japanese idea Yūgen perfectly express this mysterious way of experience.You feel more than you see, something is awaken in you, maybe like some feeling of melancholy. You can feel it with your body (German: Leib) and soul. The soul is the most important part of this experience. You can feel sad, happy, delighted and so on…But there is no special reason for it. It happens to you seeing the picture, experiencing the painting.

When my paintings gives this kind of feelings I’m satisfied. They work. Abstract paintings can become impressive – see the work of Mark Rothko. He is a good example of abstract painting where the paintings have an effect on the spectator.

Using sumi-e, a Japanes technique to paint landscapes and situations, this sumi can have a special effect in observing what you see. It is charactaristic in a special way. It shows you the impression of the artist – not a real landscape, but an abstraction.

This provides a great openess – to paint, to imagine and to experience what you are seeing. It is a kind of freedom in finding and giving meaning. Maybe your soul is touched. That is allright.

John Hacking


Meer afbeeldingen van mijn werk: Saatchi –  Weebly – Behance