Sunday, 20 September 2009

Like a Prayer

To me, the name Issey Miyake means perfume and exclusive black clothes. To others he is more of a guarantee of good taste and style. In the foreword to the book "Inspired Flower Arrangemnets" by Toshiro Kawase, Issey Miyake confesses that he cannot recall ever once having been deeply moved by a flower exhibition, and that he prefers flowers growing wild in nature. Still his conception of art was transformed in the encounter with the tatehana (standing flowers) of Toshiro Kawase.

This is a beautiful book with large photos of flowers arranged in japanese antique containers from temples, museums and private collections. At the end of the book there are comments to
each photo. Here are two of my favorites:

"All flower arrangement is a form of prayer. As I (...) stand the flowers, and give them water, I continually pray to something in nature. Through prayer, the starting point for all flower arrangement, the true heart of all plant life is revealed."

"The pleasure of arranging flowers lies in discovering the beauty of form, which gradually becomes apparent through the process of simplifying the materials used. By cutting a flower, you are able to penetrate the reality of it's form - a reality hidden while it is blooming in it's natural state. This is the unique fascination of ikebana; if not for that it would be a sin to cut the flowers."

The book also has a very interesting review of the history of ikebana, giving more attention than other reviews that I have read to the Shinto roots of Ikebana. It also focuses on the balanse between the tatehana style of ikebana, growing ever larger and more elaborate, showy but also sacred and formal, and the nageire style that came to symbolize the aesthetics of simple restraint and the momentariness of life.

by Toshiro Kawase
Foreword by Issey Miyake
Kodansha International, Tokyo and New York, 1990
120 pages. 74 large colour photos.


Keith said...

Toshiro Kawase is undoubtedly my favorite ikebana artist. His ikebana is simple and complex all at the same time. I've spent a lot of time this summer going over the many books I have by him, admiring how strong his relationship with flowers is, and what a deep understanding of them he has.

nordic lotus said...

Hi Keith, Thats interesting - I had never heard about Toshiro Kawase until I bought this book. It seems to me too that he has a sensibility and an approach to ikebana that is rare. Maybe I should look for more books by him. Anyway, your comment leds me to think that you are going in the right direction when you are thinking of studying with a classical ikebana school.

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