Several years ago I was crossing the Mall in Washington on my way back to my hotel when I decided I had to duck into the Sackler Gallery, part of the Smithsonian, and see the Asian work there. On display was the Price Collection, on loan from Los Angeles. The first piece I saw as I entered the exhibition was “Pine and Plum Trees in Snowstorm” by Jagyoku Katsu, the 18th Century Japanese artist. The room was dimmed and soft light fell on an enormous screen with branches and falling snow. I felt completely enveloped by the piece. I had both a calm and emotional response to it, it was a feeling that has stayed with me to this day.
A representation of these screens on a computer cannot begin to give you the feeling of the atmosphere, nor the enormous scale of the pieces. I was impressed by the way so much was conveyed with such an economy of means, and almost no color.
When I get shaken by a work of art like this, it is going to find its way into my work. The piece that was most directly affected by this experience is this one:
I chose to use the motif of the almond tree, which I have been working with for years, perecisely because I am so familiar with it, I can work with it freely. This time I painted it on several panels to give it the feeling of the screens. My pallette was limited. What is impossible to see here is that I have used reflective paint that makes light bounce off the surface of the canvas and also changes with the light.
The piece is currently at Gremillion and Company, Fine Arts, Inc. in Houston, Texas.
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