Every year, white and soft pink cherry blossoms are found blooming all over Japan. This annual rite of spring is eagerly celebrated by gathering in parks to picnic under the flowering trees. These trees, known as sakura, carry great cultural significance for the Japanese. With their short blooming season, they remain an enduring metaphor for the ephemeral nature of life. They are also a popular good luck symbol, and can frequently be found depicted in art, as well as many consumer goods such as clothing and stationary.
Sakura is native to Japan and other Asian countries, but can also be found growing in many other parts of the world, prompting similar kinds of celebrations. This project is a nice way to welcome spring after a long and loathsome winter.
As I explored the Whitney Biennial’s offerings for 2010, I came across the work of Roland Flexner. He is a French artist living in New York, and creates the most amazing imaginary landscapes using the ancient Japanese art of marbling, or suminagashi. This practice dates back to the 12th century, and involves floating ink on water or gelatin, and blowing on it to achieve a marbled effect.
By the 15th century, other types of marbling appeared in Central Asia and the Islamic World, finally reaching Europe in the 17th century. In Europe, the designs were typically used for book covers and end-papers, as shown in the photograph above. These books, some of which date back to the 1760’s, belonged to my grand-father and originated from France. They provided a more realistic source of inspiration than Flexner’s work; something I could actually hope to replicate. It took some experimenting but the results were extremely rewarding, and if you’ve never cooked moss before, now’s your chance.