Maiko Misedashi, Watercolor, 24″ x 24″
I have a deep affinity with Japanese culture which I really can’t explain. I’ve had a self imposed study for many years on their food, customs, design, textile arts, horticulture, you name it. So when I finally had a chance to visit Japan, especially Kyoto, the old capital, on two separate occasions, it was a dream come true. I have had the idea for this painting floating in my head for a few years, and finally executed it. On one trip to Japan during cherry blossom season, we came upon a number of maiko, apprentice geiko, as geisha are known in Kyoto. The maiko in the painting was surrounded by lots of fanfare and was accompanied by her male dresser. Maiko must by assisted by a person, usually male, to help them layer their formal dress of kimono and tie the heavy and cumbersome obi. The obi is tied differently for the Maiko, leaving a long tail of the two ends down the back. For the geiko the obi is tucked in and doesn’t hang loose. A Misedashi is a ceremony when a girl who aspires to be a geiko becomes a maiko, an apprentice geiko. It is the official beginning of her career.
I wanted to integrate in the design my love of the textiles of Japan and pay homage to the art of ukiyo-e or wood block prints whIch I also adore. I used to do textile work for years and used some of those former techniques I used to do on fabrics in the background. Ukiyo-e literally translates as “pictures of the floating world” which describes the lifestyle and culture in the Edo-period of Japan when the prints were produced by artists such as Hokusai. The fish, or Japanese carp, in the design makes reference to the “floating world” depicted in this ancient art form, which also inspired many of the impressionist artists, like Monet and Van Gogh in the late 19th century. Monet collected ukiyo-e and Van Gogh was inspired by them as well and integrated elements from them in some of his work.
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