Art as Influence, as Inspiration

"art is often a symptom of the landscape"

Over the past few weeks, I've been enjoying and reading about the great Japanese artist Hokusai. Although Hokusai's name may not be universally known to many of us, his painting 'The Great Wave off Kanagawa', will be. It is perhaps the most famous Japanese print of all.

 Hokkusai's 'The Great Wave of Kanagawa'.

Hokkusai's 'The Great Wave of Kanagawa'.

I'm due to visit Japan this December. It's a trip I've been looking forward to all year now and as it gets closer  I find I can't help myself but wish to know more about Japan, its art and its culture.

You see, I get great inspiration from enjoying and absorbing the art of the places I'm going to visit, because its art is often a symptom of its landscape. I think this is very true in Japan's case. Often the landscape has been cultivated to fit their aesthetic sensibilities, and other times the shape and form of the landscape has informed their art.

 This is a beautifully illustrated book of Hokusai's work. I find that just looking and enjoying the work, that I am finding inspiration. 

This is a beautifully illustrated book of Hokusai's work. I find that just looking and enjoying the work, that I am finding inspiration. 

But as well as enjoying the art for its own sake, I find the actual process of investigating and learning about it helps me connect with the place I'm going to visit. Indeed, I often find that the art of a country can often mimic elements of the landscape, or the other way round.  In Japan's case, their landscape has been cultivated to a degree to match the culture's aesthetics. 

But there is more. The Japanese have very definite aesthetics to their art and architecture, and I feel that any understanding I gain before the trip may help me when I am piecing together a new portfolio of images. I guess I'm trying to say that since I felt inspired to come to Japan because of its art and their approach to shaping their landscape, I wish my photography to illustrate this as far as is possible. If I am not entirely ignorant about a place and the culture, then I think any knowledge I have is going to be absorbed hopefully in my picture making.

Inspiration can come from many sources, and I guess the most obvious one is to look at other photographer's work. But I think I stopped using others photography as the sole reason for my influences many years ago. These days I'm more likely to find inspiration through a book i've read, some music I've listened to (such as the wonderful 'Bino No Aozora by Ryuishi Sakamoto below)) and most likely - the art of the country, because the art is often a symptom of the landscape. 

Ryushi Sakamoto's 'Bibo No Aozora