Quiet beauty of Sumi-e. Philosophy of Sumi-e

The word "Sumi-e" consists of two parts: 墨絵, 墨 sumi - ink, 絵 e - picture, and means ink painting.

Technique of ink painting originated in China around the time of the Tang Dynasty (618-907) and reached a special development during the Song period (960-1271) and Yuan (1271-1368).

This style arose as a dinial of academic palace styles. It highlighted impromptu, inspiration, momentary inspiration of the , and was connected with calligraphy. Lovers who painted "for themselves" turned to him. They were called the "Bunzin",  they were monks, educated, cultured people, representatives of the intelligentsia of medieval China. Chinese style of bungeen, painting of intellectual artists, arises.

Wandering buddhist monks of zen school contributed to the spread of pictorial style of Song and Yuan periods in Japan.

Ink teaches us to reach the maximum from a minimum! To convey what you want to say, it's not necessary to scream and use all the colours of the world. Sometimes whisper may be more convincing.

The main feature of Sumi-e is monochrome. Sumi ink is black

But a painter, working in a Sumi-e technique, is able to create numerous gradations of shades from coal black to light grey to create the volume and diversity of the product. All this is connected with its special philosophy, because not every picture can be called Sumi-e. 


The spirit of Zen "concentrated contemplation" is found here. Sumi-e was brought to Japan by Zen monks. And it's easy to imagine why it is attractive to them. All unnecessary discarded in Sumi-e, like in Zen. Reality may be put into the only word in Zen after some hours of meditation. In Sumi-e - they're some laconic lines on a white sheet of paper. In other words, Sumi-e conveys the essence of nature. The true meaning of Sumi-e can be found in the fact that it concentrates and expresses beauty in a summary form. 

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Great poet Basyo  formulated another aesthetic concept connected with creation of artistic image, it sounds like "karumi", "lightness". According to which, creative act must be committed immediately, in one breath. 

There's just "now".  It's impossible to correct applied brushstroke, there's only one attempt. Therefore, the painter of this genre practices for a long time and brings his technique to perfect, like masters of martial arts sharping their moves. Zen painter Hakuin answered the question about how long he had been painting a portrait of Bodhidharma Daruma: " Ten minutes and eighty years".

Sumi-e painting  embodies such aesthetic categories as Vabi - delicate taste, and Sabi - exquisite simplicity. One of the tasks of classical West painting is more realistic image of a thing (volume, perspective). While understatement is always there in Sumi-e felicitous composition. Sumi-e's task is to leave aside all unnecessary details. 

Also it's important to realise how much can be achieved without colour, using the wide range of owing a brush and using various shades of ink. A painter makes a simplification of life, which is complemented by viewer's imagination later. To make a dialogue, everything shouldn't be said between a painter and a viewer. In this regard Sumi-e requires viewers to use their imagination widely to see a picture in colour intuitively. 


Japanese sense of aesthetics

Due to the unique perception of beauty, Japanese sense of aesthetics highlights several points:

. The beauty of empty space. Leaving some empty space on the canvas, a painter leaves some space for a viewer for fantasy, hinting that there's something else out of the frame. It's like reading between the lines.

. The beauty of incompleteness. It's painting of hints and half-words.

. The beauty without efforts. Sense of "self" is the main hindranse in the work.


Welcome to the world of fleeting charm art!

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