2012.10.15 By Phil Couture
Henry Miller once said, "One destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things" .Through my artwork, I hope to share the subjects and scenes that I have discovered through traveling the world and experiencing the unimaginable variety that it has to offer. Truth truly is stranger than fiction and the world stage and its characters are far more interesting than the island that most people create for themselves by never seeing or trying new things. I never thought that my art would ever see the influence of Asia, but through opportunities of not only traveling to, but living in Asia, new subject matter finds their way onto my canvases.
When my wife had the opportunity to teach in Japan, we both felt that a new and exciting chapter of our lives was about to unfold. Having been raised in Florida my entire life, it seemed unimaginable that my first move outside of my hometown would be to the northeast region of Japan. After I immersed myself in a year of plein air painting in the beautiful countryside and scenic coasts of Aomori prefecture, my wife and I had another opportunity. This time, we had the chance to move further south to the birthplace of Japanese grace and beauty; Kyoto. Kyoto, Japan's former capital, is the picturesque epitome of historic Japan and a painter's paradise. From the beautiful Kamo riverside and surrounding mountains, to the breathtaking temples, gardens, teahouses and shrines, Kyoto is overflowing with beauty and inspiration. Of course, there is one subject that is particularly inspiring and alluring that I constantly find myself returning to paint: the geisha.
The flower and willow world of the geisha is at the same time beautiful and tragic. While they are true embodiments traditional Japanese aesthetics and values, the geisha are classic examples of the traditional being overtaken by the modern. While I have no doubt that the world of the geisha will never fully disappear, the numbers and demand for them has dramatically declined over the course of the centuries, in particularly the last few decades. When you first get a glimpse of a geisha or maiko, an apprentice geisha, walking through the alleyways, it is like seeing a rare bird quickly fly into your field of vision and then swiftly disappear. The mystery of these women is truly enthralling and through my paintings I try to convey that sense of mystery and elegance to the viewer. I feel very fortunate to live in a place and time where something like this is still appreciated, admired, and practiced. Even in today's world with a utilitarian approach to everything, there is still a world of romanticism that manages to survive. They are living, breathing examples of the spirit of art and intrigue.
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