Archive for Zen Art


Posted in Art, Collage, Drawing, J. D. Hastings with tags , , , , , , , on September 17, 2013 by jdhastings

I am very interested in Japanese art, particularly Zen art and poetry, and have occasionally incorporated some imagery from that tradition into my own work. Thematically however, my work is often the opposite to the spirit of most Zen art. Whereas meditative spontaneity, improvisation and simplicity are central to actual Zen art, my work is often busy, labored and chaotic. Personally, this somehow makes sense to me, though I’d understand if it flummoxed a fan of the original tradition (I’m pretty sure most followers of traditions I dabble in would be annoyed by me).

In these pieces I am working with an image of Daruma (or Bodhidarma), the founder of Zen Buddhism, who is central to Zen art’s imagery. These pieces represent him crossing the Yangtze River while balanced on a single reed, a feat he was required to perform while fleeing the Chinese Emperor, whom he had just insulted.

In the short term, these pieces are an experiment with a sort of collaged drawing style that I’ve used before, but never with a sewing machine. Each collage is comprised of pieces of 7 individual drawings of Daruma (based on an original source drawing I made), or collage of painted canvases. I will post these originals at the end. Each piece is 9″ x 6″, multimedia.

What I like about these, and where I see some connection back to the source material, is that while traditional western drawing techniques that I used in most of the original pieces are very deterministic, where you can achieve virtually any intended effect given patience, the collages add a large element of chance. Even knowing what the processes will be before hand, the end result can’t be predicted until the actual work is finished and viewed. While still not meditative or improvisational this element of chance that may result in unexpected results or outright failure make the pieces “live” to me in a manner that drawing static, predictable works don’t.

That’s a lot to say about these, though I really consider these sketches. Tests of methods I may pursue more fully later. Caffeine!

(This piece has already been mounted into a book that I’ll post at some other time)







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