French and Japanese influences

Suggestiveness or yugen is a current that runs through the valued feelings of Japanese society. Possibly because of the vast population and lack of space, where there is a need to express everything using a limited kind of expressiveness. Thus the emphasis on the subtle.
In the paintings of the ukiyoe the subjects are actors or beautiful women, often they are depicted as ‘gesting’ to something, whilst having a posture of stillness. Gest is a key component in the performing arts when not all is spoken, but expressed through action, combined with an emphasis on space. This void containing nothing considerably affects the movement and expression as a whole. This is transposed into painting, to create paintings that value the subtle and profound in silence and the subtle.

As a researcher in residence at an arts centre in Camac Sur Siene, I met a painter who was travelling to Japanese caves to find Ochre to paint with. This reminded of the Indian ink with rock pigments used and perfected in the Muromachi period (1333-1573). Through discussion, reflection and debating, I learnt about the Japanese influence on French painting particularly with Jean Cocteau, Van Gogh and Tolouse Lautrec, with the influence on simplicity and elegance and the French influence on Japanese painting such as the film-maker Akira Kurosawa.