‘Ambiguity to clarity, absence to presence,
and the hazy mysteries of nature’ James Fox
For my idea of the two linen panels for the painting and inspired by the segmented black framed windows of East Suffolk House, I have drawn on an art form dating back to sixteenth century Japan. Here artists worked on multiple contiguous surfaces, not only on small decorative screens and partitions but also on a magnificent scale and designed to enhance the architecture of the building in which it was placed.
Popular subjects included flowers, birds and sages from legend, but also most notably for me, landscape. Branches, hillsides and mountain streams flow from one panel to another in simple Zen-like style.
Hasegawa Tohaku’s mesmerising ‘Pine Trees in the Mist’ 1580 is one of Japan’s most famous and one of my favourites. The trees stand ethereal, their forms appearing in and out of the damp mountain fog. It was painted about one hundred years after Sesshu Toyu’s iconic ‘Splashed Ink Landscape’. In a recent television program James Fox discusses this ground breaking but remarkably humble painting which was the beginning of this unique aesthetic. The simplest brush marks and shifts in tone create a remarkable serene, shifting landscape three or four hundred years before Impressionism began visually exploring the landscape in such a way.
What strikes me most is the amount of space and light in composition. Areas of what appears as empty space are just as important as the areas of detail and it is this that exudes a calm meditative feel in works of this nature. It’s a characteristic I hope to capture in my own work.
‘Eastern Horizon’ Oil On Linen, Emma Green 2018
Horizons are placed low, leaving a large expanse of space and light in which to breathe. In my painting for East Suffolk House, the sky and light-filled river below will also take centre stage.