Love Poems Beyond Time


Meaning: [I don’t know if you will always be true. I cannot see your mind well although you said you would love me forever. So, this morning after you left, I’m lost in thought with my heart confused like my long disheveled black hair… like the tangles in my heart.]  Hyakunin Isshu #80 (poem) by Horikawa

Translation to modern Japanese:

1_MisakoOba_Cry for LOVE9-80ab
Beyond Time & Space: “Cry for LOVE 9-#80 ab,” Misako OBA. From the series Truth in Emotion. 25.5 x 12 x 2 inch (64×30.5x5cm)
2_MisakoOba_CryForLove9b_detail“Cry for LOVE 9-#80b” (detail)

My work explores human life as a journey and is a metaphor for our lives. It is both a deep examination of our souls and an exploration of universal experiences. It also depicts the beauty of life with its transient nature.

People today love and suffer as ancient people did. We face the same feelings and issues as humans. It’s beyond time and space, I realized.

In this project, the collection of 7th – 13th century Japanese Tanka poems of thirty-one syllables (known as百人一首Haykunin Isshu*) are re-written in calligraphy using specific ancient characters (the same as back then) on Japanese paper. I often use text in my work, searching for harmony in text and images, sometimes in printmaking and other times in mixed media painting like this series. Ancient Japanese is different from modern Japanese. Even for me as a Japanese person, I cannot easily read those characters especially in calligraphy form. As for the typed ones, I can read them but didn’t know the meaning, so I had to study what each poem means. Actually, I ended up making a spreadsheet in Excel and put the author’s information, background, the time and the translation from those original ancient 100 poems into modern Japanese and English. I then categorized each poem based on the theme such as women’s desperate and/or passionate love as well as men’s love, loneliness or transience in life, and beauty of the four seasons and nature.

In Japan, Haykunin Isshu is fairly popular. We study and memorize some of the poems as schoolchildren. However, as a child without much life experience, you cannot know the deep meaning. I never knew until I opened up this time, and I felt amazed how passionate Japanese men and women in love in that era were and expressed it in the poem in a sophisticated way, and how common human emotions in life are. (You can read more about the concept of the series Beyond Time & Space in the separate post.)

Calligraphy layered in this series was written by my father, a master of calligraphy in Japan. Calligraphy is one of the historical means of communication in Japan and takes many years to master although in this modern society it is no longer common practice. I have been exploring ways of combining traditional calligraphy with my contemporary art work partly in order to create new ideas to pass on to the next generation in a different art form, which is not straight calligraphy but I let it become abstract, yet it still has a substantial meaning and role in the work.

Beyond Time & Space: “Cry for LOVE 9-#80d” 2013 (detail), Misako OBA. From the series Truth in Emotion.

I also use English text as you can see in my encaustic mixed media work (in the right side of the image above). It is also transforming to the new images using my point of view.

Take a peek at the encaustic mixed media works from the series Truth in Emotion “Beyond Time & Space” Part 1: Cry for LOVE.  The show is until September 28th in Seattle.

Hanson Scott Gallery
121 Prefontaine Pl S, Seattle, WA 98104
Tel: 858 361-5385
Gallery hours: Wed – Sat. 11am-5pm
September 5th– 28th, 2013
(Last day, Sep. 28th : Until 3pm)

This is an ongoing series and eventually there will be 20 pieces for Part 1: Cry for LOVE-What Women Feel.  (Update: This Part1 was completed (25-works), and Part2 Cry for LIFE was completed, as of 2017.  Part 3 and 4 will follow later).

*Hakunin Isshu is a collection of 100 Tanka poems by 100 cerebrated authors.
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About misako

Artist/Author @misakoobaart on Instagram
This entry was posted in Creative process, Encaustic. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Love Poems Beyond Time

  1. Pingback: Feel the Original Work with Texture | Behind the Scene, Misako OBA 大庭みさこ

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