When I returned to college to study Art History one course per quarter I felt truly wealthy. I could afford any book my instructor recommended. And I had enough free time to read it shortly after purchase.
Now, some thirty years later, I still judge my net worth within those values. What a joy it is to snuggle deeply into my couch and begin another story!
Shortly after my last post I bought a paperback titled "The Mask Carver's Son." It was Alyson Richman's first novel. Though I am not a fan of first person narrators, I can't imagine another literary voice for this book.
I read each page waiting for disclosures. Almost every detail was a private memory, unspoken but revealed through his hands, with evolving acceptance of personal emotional anguish. Descriptions of carving masks beside his father as a motherless youth, and a rueful adult experience during the restoration of a painted pine tree still remain with me.
Writing essays for this blog has encouraged me to evaluate my artistic progress. As I gaze at my needlepoint it is evident I have altered the very spirit of Leigh's painted design. The appearance of my floating sunflower canvas conveys a brighter palette, more integration of design elements within foreground and background, and a greater balance of "weight."
None of this was pre-planned. I simply wanted to erase all of the original flashy details and the lacy grid of harsh steel grays. I have created a thoroughly "Jean" decorative pattern for the first time!
There is a central theme in Yamamoto Kiyoki's final chapters. He feels alien, with good reason.
In Paris he attained rare student acclaim at the Annual Salon for a painting filled with dynamic exuberant brush strokes. Yet he was never invited to socialize or converse with his Paisian peers.
After four and a half years he had exhausted his funds and had to return to his homeland. Early on, he was invited to assemble work for an exhibition. It was a career disaster. Lots of snarky comments and a scathing review of his ugly, unrefined, louder than neon palette were broadcast throughout the Ginza in Tokyo. Kiyoki had no further opportunties to teach or sell his work in Japan.
Though he remained wary and reclusive for the rest of his life, his painting style continued to develop for more than thirty additional years with impetuous verve. He completely abandoned the dull, damp, woody vapors of Japanese landscapes for the light-drenched seawalls of Antibes. He wasn't deterred by eventual poverty or World War I. He was devoted to creating a unique style. He used his brush like a carver's chisel - incisive, cutting through layered paint.
Upon death museum officials were astounded to discover countless sketches and more than 300 completed paintings in his studio.
The book ends with his obituary. It was heart-breaking to read.
Yamamoto Kiyoki's unconventional Impressionist style became respected and widely acclaimed at Japanese exhibitions and art academies posthumously. Though he is a fictional character I feel deep regard for his life story. He is blessed with a unyielding spirit.