Woodcut

Displaying Japanese Paper in the Gallery Setting.

I prefer to hang the Cathedral Suite prints in a gallery setting unframed, against a grey wall. Sekishu, the paper I print on, sways back and forth with breath-like beats, inviting one closer to examine the artwork. One can sense the translucency of the paper’s thinness, as portions of the image wave in and out of focus. 

Cathedral Suite prints shown here are photographed as on display during a month long exhibition at the Telegraph Hill Gallery, San Francisco, CA. 

Breaking the Komainu

Throughout my travels in Japan I visited many Shinto shrines. Each Shinto shrine in Japan has a pair of komainu (lion-dog in english) placed either at the entrance of the shrine, or somewhere inside. Symbolically, komainu ward of evil spirits. The two figures are almost identical, except in the case of the mouth: one statue’s mouth is shut while the other’s mouth is open. After doing some research, I found that the mouths are actually pronouncing the first and last letters of the Sanskrit alphabet. The open mouth pronounces an “a” sound, while the closed mouth makes an “um” sound. Together, the komainu chant “aum," a sacred symbol representing the beginning and end of all things.

 

The Komainu depicted in my image is broken from the head down and diaphanous. Many of the older shrines in Japan use cages to preserve the komainu statues, as they have weathered and broken over time. Cages can be interpreted in many different ways: protection, preservation, jails or barriers to name a few. I’m going for preservation in this work, and read the overall meaning of this piece as an attempt to maintain mindfulness of the present moment. I often find myself overly concerned with what is going to  happen in the future, or re-thinking situations in the past that might have gone a different way. This work is a reminder that the present moment can quickly fade.

 

Creating an image with both translucent and opaque areas that overlap would prove to be a technical challenge. To achieve the numerous effects, I printed with watercolors for the translucent komainu, and with gouache for the opaque rope and cage. To give the cage an aged feel, I added some German antiquated calligraphic ink I picked up when I was in Vienna.

 

Here are some photographs of the finished piece. 

 

I've Launched a Kickstarter campaign to study Japanese woodblock printmaking.

Today I am launching a kickstarter campaign to learn the process of Japanese woodblock printmaking at the Mokuhanga Innovation Laboratory, in Japan. Throughout my practice, I continuously find myself drawing from antiquity to better understand present dilemmas relating to identity and the habitual dependance on technology. As my primary medium is woodcut printmaking, learning how to print in the mokuhanga style feels natural.

I expect this residency at MI-LAB to establish a solid foundation that I can use to create multi-color woodblock prints with water-based inks. I'm also expecting my carving and knife sharpening skills to shoot through the roof! Can't wait to learn how to sharpen the Japanese way!

Check out the Project here: http://kck.st/1fRYwSo

Progress shots of new woodcuts.

This series depicts cathedrals in various states of restoration. While I was in Europe I saw gorgeous cathedral after cathedral; mans greatest achievements in architectural design and artistry are scattered all through Central Europe. All of them shared something in common: scaffolding. I became drawn to the contrast of the flawless design of the spires and the clinging scaffolds clinging on to the temporal parts of the buildings, the parts that need repair.

I began to read this imagery as the condition I personally feel towards western spirituality. My body is temporal, imperfect, and boy do I have a beer belly! The ideal version of My body could be tall, timeless, athletic, eloquent and strong.  The scaffolding is a reminder that the ideal body presented by the church is also temporal, imperfect.