Of Dead Things

Diary 2008.10.10

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This is a postcard project I am currently working on in Kamiyama. It started with a pack of old fashioned deckled edge, postcard-sized papers I bought at the Tokushima art supply store with mailing lines and boxes printed in red on the verso and a few tubes of watercolors I brought from home. They are made in small batches from natural minerals, earth and semi-precious stones. I haven’t been using watercolors because I find them intimidating. My life in Kamiyama though feels remote enough from my regular life to give even these somewhat esoteric watercolors a try. I started with a color test.
The names of the colors sound like a poem. Sodalite Green, Burnt Umber, Transparent Red Oxide, Bloodstone Genuine, Purpurite Genuine, Sedona Genuine, Mummy Bauxite, Navapai.
The first postcard. I found this leaf on my way home from the Hidenoya diner.

Note: I saw a book of the mural art of Kotohira-gu Shrine and was completely enthralled by the work of Ito Jakuchu, who painted the sliding door panels of the Chief Priest’s Living Quarters. The paintings are of various flowers and plants in front of a solid gold background, arranged in a sort of catalog, in neat columns and rows instead of the more frequent landscape style arrangement. What struck me was the unedited, thruthful way Jakuchu painted these flowers. Some of them are in bloom while others are fading, shriveling, some leaves are green and fresh others have big holes, eaten away by insects, plant rot or disease. This is not nature in a sanitized artificial way, it’s not a “best of” but a deeply compassionate look at things as they are, glorious beauty amid disease and decay all entangled, all framed in gold.
This next card is a painting of a root I found in the forest. It reminded me of the nerves in a person’s body.
Then yesterday I captured this huge mukade– posionous centipede– in my kitchen. From what I’ve been told the best way of disposing of them is through burning or freezing, as crushing them might attract others with the smell. I froze this one, then today I thawed it out and made several drawings and this painting of it. That’s why it’s so limp-looking with all the legs tucked under. 00001604.jpg
I found this half of a wasp in my studio. It looked like the spiders already got to it. The back segment of insects must be the tastiest bit because I found many others with only that piece missing, including a giant hairy-legged half-spider which I posed in front of my sets and photographed extensively.
As I was scanning the paintings I realized that they are all, without exception of dead things.

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KAIR2008 Artist

Articles by Andrea


  • They may be dead things - but they look beautiful - sort of like visual poems

    10/10/2008 10:21 AM | Tammy

  • Yeah, they are all dead things, but they are also all things that weren't always dead. So really, these post cards are the ultimate souvenirs/mementos of past life forms. Very elegant and exquisite. I am truly envious of the wonderful opportunity you've earned for yourself in Japan, and am heartened to see that you are taking full advantage of it. Makes me feel like such a fool - I haven't drawn in nearly a month!

    10/10/2008 7:27 AM | Mark in Maryland

  • that during the 18th century cleaning was a job of slaves. Slaves and females are considered

    10/10/2008 3:13 AM | gaze

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