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Tuesday March 26th, 2013

Posted at 11:00am

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Guest Article By Erin Ward

During the month of April, experience the “Floating World” of old Japan through Art Collector Mark Reeseman’s collection of 19th and 20th century Japanese Woodblock Prints, on special at Juniper Books for the next five weeks.

The prints, called Ukiyo-e, translated as “Pictures of the Floating World, depict the scenes and moments of everyday life in old Japan as they pass by, disappearing forever. In a sense the art works are preserving this world, while also expressing the nature of a whole era as being fleeting, much like that of an everyday moment.

The prints encourage a deeper immersion in the present, as through them you discover the myriad experiences that are contained within a single moment, like the ones frozen in time on the paper; you see the patterns of shadow and light, the movement of water, the tiny veins on the underside of a lily pad, the shape of tree tops; you can sense the connection being shared between two figures; feel a peaceful surrender to the natural flow of time and life. In his book, Tales From the Floating World, Japanese novelist, Ryoi, described the concept of Ukiyo-e as such;

“…Living only for the moment, turning our full attention to the pleasures of the moon, the snow, the cherry blossoms and maple leaves; singing songs, drinking wine, diverting ourselves in just floating, floating; caring not a whit for the pauperism staring us in the face, refusing to be disheartened, like a gourd floating along the river current: that is what we call the floating world…”

It is perhaps no surprise that such an art form encourages an appreciation of the present, given that in order to produce a woodblock print, the artist must spend hours bent over blocks of sakura, or cherry wood, one for each colour in the print, carefully guiding the emergence of the desired image from the smooth, blank surface. I imagine the quiet of the workshop, the scent of wood shavings curling out from under the chisel, the dust highlighted in the sunbeams, and the artist, totally immersed in the experience of the moment.

To experience these unique prints for yourself come by Juniper Books from now until April 30th, to learn more about them, join us next Saturday, March 30th between 12:30 and 5:30 when Asian Art Collector, Mark Reeseman will be on hand to discuss this fascinating art form and the prints from his collection.

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