When the world implodes around you, art begins to make sense.
Not the “art” that is kept in the galleries, which burns under bad lighting.
Art as a technique. As an element put into practice with no other purpose than to silence the voices that whisper in the head.
My world was shattered, a tsunami of emotions exploded in it like a Hokusai wave.
I’m looking at my Hokusai book right now.
What happens when the world implodes?
In 1794 Hokusai’s world imploded, his ties to paintings of the theater world and the Katsukawa school were simply swept away by the waves he had not yet painted.
What do you do when your world implodes?
What happens when you stop portraying the external symbolic world and start portraying the internal cliffs?
That is when one must immerse oneself in study, that is when the working day extends from sunrise to sunset.
That’s when one longs to find a new path.
It’s not necessary to know what’s going on in my life or Hokusai’s. We all have moments when our life simply becomes different from the one we knew, just like that. Without warning.
We’re all living in moments of rupture, of precipice.
When the old life seems far away.
From passing to painting from time to time Hokusai began to paint tirelessly. He changed his artistic name and started signing as Sori.
A follower of the Nichiren Buddhist school, he worshipped the northern polar star Hokushin.
He opened his own studio and worked non-stop.
I think: The sounds are saving me from falling off the cliff, the sounds have saved me from falling off.
Yet every morning the same question appears in my mind: What is all this I am doing? Why do I work hard and at the end of the day I erase everything I have done? What is the point? Where am I walking to? Why do I do it? Why do I continue to sit here every morning?
With this new change, the obsession with work changed communication. From the morning until well into the early hours of the morning I walk the path of new sound forms whispering things to me in a new language.
However, I cannot yet grasp any specific words.
By 1810, Hokusai had created more than 1,000 new illustrations. Comic, satirical images, portraits and cartoons that give a glimpse of the future of manga.
When Hokusai turned 50, he was already famous.
He got lost on the roads again, gave his precious name to a student and started calling himself Taito, his fourth artistic name, derived from the star Taihokuto in the constellation of the Little Bear.
There, from the bowels of change, the manga was born. Small illustrated books of daily life.
The term “manga” means something like “quick drawing” or “painting something without intention”.
Hokusai manga is an encyclopedia of Japanese painting. Figures, portraits, caricatures, landscapes, religious and mythological representations as well as scientific and technical ones are found in this book.
In 1820 Hokusai turns 70 and finds himself again in the year of the Dragon, crossing the complete cycle of the zodiac and returning to the starting point of life.
You see the images and it’s kind of impressive. The colors, the vitality.
The inner world now meets the outer world.
What makes Hokusai’s work so appealing to me?
Hokusai’s personal life was not easy, as no life is. Hokusai’s finances were not fruitful, as no finances are.
In the ceaseless turmoil of life Hokusai moved ninety times and while doing so the only thing that saved him from falling was study, obsession.
So at the age of 74 he took another artistic name Gakyo Rojin “the old man obsessed with painting”.
Update April 2020: This post was written in the year 2018, when I reread it in the middle of what is happening today in the world I am surprised by how close I feel the words written here and at the same time how comforting they are.
During the year 2018, months after writing these words, I was able to give shape to my piece “Rooms in your mind”, a piece that completely changed my way of relating to sounds and that opened up the possibility of starting to perform live more often. With more confidence.
In that year, 2018, I didn’t know for sure how my life would continue, let alone my work. The same feeling I have now in 2020.
However the perseverance, the work with the sounds saved me. I do not know how it was, but product of getting up every day and make even a new attempt to produce something in the midst of chaos, was fundamental to create something concrete later.
“Rooms in your mind” was a piece that took me over a year to complete, it was supposed to be a simple piece but circumstances made it change constantly.
Finally when I finished it, I was able to look at the tour. Now that piece encapsulates that tour, and I thank you for it.
Maybe you don’t know what’s happening to you now, maybe in your head you just have a swirl. Write, paint, design sounds. If art fulfills any function it is precisely this: to save us when everything else seems to simply fall away.
Art as a technique.
Author: Sol Rezza
Editor | Corrector: Franco Falistoco