Salt Art of the Coolest Kind

Salt labyrinths. Yes, labyrinths made from salt by Japanese artist Motoi Yamamoto.  Achingly beautiful.

Motoi Yamamoto, Kunst-Station, St. Peter, Cologne, Germany, 2010

And a close-up:

Motoi Yamamoto, Labyrinth, Salt, Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, Japan, 2010

I guess that it goes without saying, although I’ll say it anyway, that these remind me of sand mandalas made by Tibetan monks.  For me, the beauty of the sand mandalas is very much wrapped up in the fact that they’re destroyed in the end.  I saw one for the first time at the Indiana University Art Museum, and as shocked as I was when I learned that the mandala would be destroyed, it’s really what makes them what they are.  Yamamoto’s salt labyrinths are also destroyed in the end, and the artist asks that the salt be thrown into the sea.  There’s something there about the interconnectedness of life, about life and death, particularly since salt is essential for human life, and as the artist points out, salt is important to Japanese death rituals. (It is sprinkled on mourners after funerals because it is believed to repel evil.)  The fact that the salt is put back into the ocean, thus completing its journey, brings it all full circle.  Something which is elemental to human life is used for art, then thrown back into the sea from whence it came.  Beautiful. Continue reading

A Meditation on Still Lifes

I rediscovered Monet through a still life.  The artist who I thought of as an impressionist, who painted changes in light, who painted out of doors, and who was interested in giving the impression of an object or a scene rather than a detailed likeness, also painted the most amazing peaches.  Take a look:

Monet, Peaches, 1883

I was at a Monet exhibit, prepared to be annoyed by the same old same old (haystacks. waterlilies.  ho hum.), when I came across these peaches toward the beginning of the exhibit.  It was unexpected, and beautiful, and luscious.  And when I got to the haystacks and the waterlilies, I felt like I was seeing them differently.  I’d take a closer look at anything by the painter of those magical peaches.  (Read more on Monet’s still lifes.)

I first started falling in love with still lifes when I worked at an art gallery in a small tourist town one summer during college.  I’m not a born salesperson, and I hated that job.  But there was one painting, of plums, by a local artist. It, too, was luscious.  I’d ponder that painting every day during my short stint as an art salesperson. It probably kept me sane.  And it began my attraction to, and fascination with, still lifes. Continue reading