Breathing the poetic quality of a Rainy Line of Hiroshige

by Bernadette Kam Fu Lee 

Hiroshige ( 歌川廣重)

























 ( 李錦芙觀Hiroshige 羅馬畫展後遀筆)

Unexpectedly it snowed in Rome

three weeks ago

unexpectedly it hailed

three days ago

unexpectedly someone missed an appointment 


I went to see Hiroshige on a sunny day

in the show

I saw the four seasons as well as

the rain, the snow, the hailing scene of the Rome I lived just a few days or a few weeks ago

of the scenes set by

a master of an Eastern eye of more than 150 years ago


an Eastern insight with a modernised vision

almost turning occidental

but not quite


those western eyes after years ( I mean, the visitors of the Show )

became attentive to this mixture of a Vision: East and West live together

in harmony or in discord, in space that look three dimensional yet flattened

it gave inspiration to the superb eyes of the Impressionists and the expressionists years ago

in the intriguing patterns lived intimately in the diaries of a Master

so Van Gogh painted Hiroshige ‘s bridge in his own way

so Van Gogh wrote in a letter expressing his enthusiasm

of an expert of the Floating World

Was the world too materialistic in the richness of pattern or was the world worthy to be celebrated in each single moment of a transient life span by an Artist?

Hockney  also once mentioned how delighted he was when he found the multiple perspectives depicted by the artists of the ancient Chinese scroll 

where one could wander in and out in the mind’s space of an artist who drew with delight of what was happening in each corner of the street

or in each room where no blocking of views was revealed through the non perspectively correct window frame

as if in a film

we see frames after frames

but we determine the speed

the flow

and how we see: we could look up and see the hill first, then come down in the corner to appreciate the conversation taken in a street

or simply to admire the fashion of a style 

of the attires worn by the ladies...

so what is in a vision

a fixed vision as discovered by the Renaissance or a forever changing vision

lived by the artists of the scroll paintings or the onlookers who view the works even years after

or like Hiroshige 

who froze some memorable visions in woodcut prints

though frozen

a story in motion is still told

on a flat piece of rice paper

with perfect balance of form and void

I suspect

he wrote beautiful Calligraphy in order to achieve this high balance of space and form without error

Indeed, if you happen to go to the show

look at his original ink drawings which show no flaw and the rarely shown works where his calligrahy was incorporated  

after The Show

the next day

it rained 

At Home in my garden near Rome

I seemed to see Hiroshige ‘s poetic world

in his portrayal of rain the first time

-the continued lines he used to depict the falling rain

all of a sudden

became real

no longer abstract as a graphic line

but genuine in its feelings 

so I breathed

after the show

the poetic quality

of a Rainy Line

Bernadette Kam Fu Lee

9/04/2018 after the show of Hiroshige in Rome

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