Why do I Paint Rainbows?
I have vaguely known that I wanted to paint rainbows for quite a long time.
However, painting rainbows seemed so obvious and simplistic that I couldn’t quite get started. I figured that once I could entirely forget the concept of a rainbow, then I would be able to paint it. Then one evening in Southern France, by chance I witnessed an upside-down rainbow.
I quickly photographed it, but it wasn’t born as art so swiftly and remained inside me for a while. Then, when my father passed away last year, I suddenly had the urge to paint rainbows, without knowing exactly why. Perhaps I wanted to face his death by performing something like a funeral. Alternatively, maybe I wanted to entrust my wish onto my rainbow painting so his spirit could rise safely to Heaven.
I discovered in the Norse mythology that the meaning of rainbow is bridge; called bifrost, it connects this world to the afterlife. There are also many other cultures with the rainbow etymology meaning “bridge that connects this world and the other world.” I couldn’t help feeling the inevitability and the synchronicity of this coincidence. Perhaps a rainbow, which is fleeting, and a person’s life, which is also a flash of a moment in the vast history of the universe, overlapped in me because they’re both ephemeral. I thought of depicting an upside-down rainbow and, at the same time, create a series of 10 paintings of each color of the rainbow which would then become a spectrum when mounted next to each other.
I applied multiple layers of light-colored natural mineral pigments on the black background that was painted in Sumi-ink in a repetitive, almost ceremonial manner, so as to bring out the red and blue of the rainbow colors which are a vibration of light, thereby allowing the faint light itself to appear gradually from of the darkness.
“Tea making gradually evolved into tea ceremony. Could the insecurity of living cause this?” Genpei Akasegawa. (1990). Sen no Rikyu : Mugon no Zen’ei [Sen no Rikyu : The Silent Avant- garde]. Tokyo, Japan. Iwanami Shinsho (p.172)
Perhaps humans try to eliminate the fear of death/separation through the act of repeating a pure expression and patiently waiting for some mystical outer force beyond our existence to appear.
Precisely because the lifetime of a person is limited and anxieties of death exist does man try to fly away to a world of unlimited freedom. Moreover, precisely because a person’s life is limited does man embark on an endless journey of creating and communicating something, even though it may end up as a wasted effort.
To incorporate art into life and to face it primarily means that you spend your life as though being re-born every day because you’re always facing the fact that you’re a mortal being.
By being aware of the border between this world and the afterworld and by coming to terms with life/death, man can finally dream of flying off to a world that transcends the idea of self and others, and, by doing so, he may even discover his new self.