Friday, November 7, 2014

A Lesson in Looking (Kyoto's Art Museums)

On the train home from Kyoto's art museums, the view from my window became a woodblock print.  The edges of the rolling mountains cut across the darkening pink sky and the silhouettes of the Japanese roofs moved in and out of the frame.  The fluorescent lights of the stations we passed through barked like bright oils.  The reflection of the man sitting opposite to me in the train seemed magical with every breath and his voice, speaking to the woman seated next to me, an impossibility. What would it be like to be an artist, to be awake to every moment, freezing it in some frame?  Some tell the story of time on the canvass, of paint's motion from a living hand.  Some depict beautiful scenes, forcing them to sit still, teasing as though they'd been captured.  Some juxtapose images in such a way as to create a message or a new concept our minds could not have conjured in reality.  We use our eyes and our ears our whole lives but no one teaches how.   Today, I felt that Hiroshige taught me something about how to see Japan.  Look, he said, this is what is beautiful, this is how you see.

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