• Art and Spirituality

    • Hiroshi Sengu's waterfalls provide a guide on how to break through the veil.

    Hiroshi Sengu’s Ethereal Waterfalls / 

    If the doors of perception were cleansed

    every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite.

    William Blake

    Contemplation is a path that if walked with honesty, it will lead us to an archetypal crossing that can metaphorically be defined as “crossing the veil”. In a few words, this is an act of freedom, a sublime catharsis that responds to our own personal ties as they bind us to a determined social and cultural context: small conscience bits that are subordinated to conventions that take us far away from the boundaries that we originally wanted to map out and that correspond to reality –le tus remember that the map is not the territory.

    But if we are able to recall that the key lays in the conscience of the door, then what better way is there to hack the obstacles that separate us from this ethereal effervescence – as Blake once said, that feeling of heavenly lightness that we get from “living in an eternal dawn” – than to contemplate our own great inner-city walls.

    Hiroshi Sengu (Tokyo, 1958) is one of the most famous artists of these last three decades. He landed in the middle of the artsy aristocratic world due to a series of large format artwork pieces that depicted waterfalls at the exact moment when the water made contact with a surface. The exquisite subtlety of his work was breathtaking for thousands of people around the world. He uses flexible patterns that take us back to natural perfection, those waterfalls project a heavenly veil that is both coming out from a sort of ontological solemnity, but also invites us to seep through them.

    It might be worth mentioning that Sengu’s work is part of the Nihonga tradition, which is a water-based art school technique that has been practiced in Japan for more than a thousand years now. This technique is set apart from others as it is typically executed on canvas —whether made with silk or with washi, which is a special type of paper— and the use of natural pigments, whilst 16 gradations of sandy grain are used to create textures. In case you are not at peace with yourself, the virtuous combination of these variables could result in something quite disturbing.

    To pay homage to his trajectory, in 2011 the Hiroshi Sengu Museum opened its doors to visitors right outside the outskirts of Tokyo. The exhibition site was designed by Ryue Nishizawa (Pritzker Architecture Prize 2010), the building sends us back to a sort of temple dedicated to lightness, with its interior gardens, pristine white walls and a lighting techniques that borders perfection. It is a space with an organic intimacy, a place where visitors can initiate a living dialogue with Sengu’s artwork, hence getting closer to the discovery of the only possible formula that can give us access to those veils: contemplation.

    Tagged: art and spirituality, hiroshi senju, plastic art, art japan, waterfalls, contemplation Credits: Photos by: 2 (Friends of the Japanese House and Garden), 3 (Chris Neyen)