Daily Art Moment: Matsubara Naoko

A lone weeping willow tree and its reflection; decaying tree stump against a black background; tree blowing to the left against a gold background; white flowers and an open book on a green table and two chairs; portrait of a bearded man with only his head and large, folded hands visible; red twisted hands raised up to pick blue beans.

“Artist Matsubara Naoko created this portfolio of woodcuts while visiting Walden Pond over the course of a year. Her title comes from Henry David’s Thoreau’s essay ‘Solitude’ (1854), written during his two-year period of self-isolation. In these expressive images, she captures the fleeting moments of daily life spent alone. She also seems to understand both the sharpness and richness of genuine solitude. A willow weeping over its own watery reflection is simultaneously majestic and yet full of pathos. An empty chair is a poignant reminder of those whose absence we feel most keenly.

Thoreau also reminds us to seek out what might be magical and invigorating about solitude: ‘…There is commonly sufficient space about us. The horizon is never quite at our elbows. / …I have, as it were, my own sun and moon and stars, and a little world all to myself. / …The value of a man is not in his skin, that we should touch him.’ “ —Jeannie Kenmotsu, Japan Foundation Associate Curator of Japanese Art and Interim Head of Asian Art

#MuseumFromHome #sosakuhanga #solitude

Matsubara Naoko (Japanese, active Canada, born 1937). Solitude, Decaying Beauty, Wind, Spring Visitor, Thoreau, Drop of Life, from the portfolio Solitude, 1971. Color woodcut prints on hōsho pure kōzo paper. Gift of Marge Riley, 88.22.1,2,7,9,10,11 © 1971 Matsubara Naoko

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