Enso is the Japanese word for “circle” (so I’m told). It is also a vital concept in the tradition of Japanese Zen art. In that tradition, the calligrapher must center himself mentally before composing the circle in one or two strokes. The symbol is meant to represent everything, including nothing.

Clearly, this piece is not calligraphy and took more than a moment to compose, and instead of seeking enlightenment I was probably watching the X-Files. However, it was also created with the tradition of the Enso in mind. The simple elegance of that symbol has had a large impact on me, and anytime you see a circle in my work, it has informed me to some extent. I thought this week was an apt time to share this.

“Enso” 16″ x 13″ Acrylic on Canvas, sewn

The tradition of Japanese calligraphy is cited in Bill Evans’s liner notes to Miles Davis’s seminal album “So What” as an important point of reference to understand the concept of “Modality” that album experimented with.



3 Responses to “Enso”

  1. markie b Says:

    円相 = ensou, specifically the zen art of drawing the circle in one stroke. i like this idea! the little red circle throws off the perfectly bilaterally balanced composition in a good way, but becomes really the focal point, leaving the larger circle in the periphery to some degree. my mind wants to pick up li’l red and put it in the big C. why? it needs to be put away? probably an urge i should learn to resist, because the red c has it’s own existence and does not need me to alter it. it Is. i Am.

    hoh boy.

  2. Wish this was on a T-shirt. I’d pay $25.00!

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