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Kishōtenketsu: is this the end or the beginning?

From the day we are born, we are confronted to a world that is structured in such a way that it is often impossible to enjoy real freedom in our relationship with the environment or with others. For instance, traditionally, we are strongly advised, whenever we are discussing a topic, to conform to a clear structure based on specific examples that support and clarify the reasoning behind the discussion. Such a kind of universal narrative structure is also found in art.

Whether it is the Tales of 1001 Arabian nights, the adventures of Harry Potter, a Super Mario video game or an Ed Sheeran hit, they all have in common that they follow the same pattern: introduction, development, twist, and conclusion. Such a pattern is not specific to the Western way of thinking; it can also be found in Asia and, particularly, in Japan where it has been known for hundred of years as Kishōtenketsu, written as

  • Introduction (ki)
  • Development (shō)
  • Twist (ten)
  • Conclusion (ketsu)

The piece shown here has been designed so as to highlight such narrative structure in Rikizo's paintings. However, before getting to a more detailed analysis, one should introduce the artist and his work.

Rikizo

Born in 1946 in Japan, Rikizo started painting at twenty-five, when he moved to Paris. In the early years of his stay in Europe, he worked as Chief programmer at the ILO (United Nations). In 1981, he resigned, to dedicate himself to painting exclusively. After actively pursuing his art in Europe for over 25 years, he had his first exhibition in Japan in 1999. During this period, he participated in many FIAC (Grand Palais, Paris) and collaborated with prestigious galleries such as Birch in Copenhagen or Tamenaga in Paris and Tokyo. His signature red-and-black paintings have been exhibited in some prestigious historic places such as Kodaiji Temple in Kyoto, or Blois castle in the Loire Valley, where the surroundings enhanced their full impact. His work has been described by contemporaries as an expression of Buddhism principles and a continuation of Japanese calligraphy. In 2021, Rikizo and I, his son Kazu, initiated a partnership to give an added dimension to his work. Such a project has a deep and special meaning for Rikizo, from an ex-programmer perspective, as it is bringing his art into the digital world.

Understanding

During his career, Rikizo experimented with multiple ways of going beyond the physical limits of the canvas. Combining tatami-size canvases together to make a unique piece has become a distinctive aspect of his art, as illustrated by the unique fusumas (traditional Japanese opaque sliding doors) he donated to Kodai-Ji temple in Kyoto. This work, inaugurated in 2009, is the very first contemporary art ever displayed in a traditional temple. On the occasion, Rikizo also showcased for the first time his red-and-black byobu (traditional Japanese folding screens). More recently, at his 2019 exhibition in Paris, he assembled 48 of his 36x36 cm square oil paintings to create a monumental composition.

When he is painting multiple pieces or considering how to balance his compositions, Rikizo is constantly asking himself how to achieve perfect order, which, ultimately, leads him to reflect on relativity: is perception the same, depending on whether one reads from right to left - as Japanese generally do - or from left to right, as in the West? Is the end of a project really final or is it the beginning of a new one?

Such interrogations are precisely at the very bottom of our purpose. The artist selected sixteen paintings and placed them in a precise order that results in a four-parts narrative structure - what we called Kishōtenketsu. However, there is more than a single way to apprehend the whole: starting from the first painting, in the upper left corner, one can, for instance, either read the work horizontally or vertically. And this very same painting, taken as a starting point, can be considered as the final element, if one starts from the opposite corner.

The sixteen resulting paths lead us to ponder not only the issue of beginning and end but, more importantly, the overall notion of relativity in all kinds of fields. There is no right nor wrong way to proceed, just one own's specific way. Letting one's true self speak, while accepting diverging feelings or judgments, is the only way to respond to one's initial uneasiness. These are only a few of the questions emerging from our reaction in front of such a unique work.

Final words

This partnership led us to reflect on the definition of a work of art: is such a composition a unique piece that should be kept as one? Should each of its components have its own life and purpose as initially designed?

The NFT market answered both, as we decided to create unique compositions that would be produced in an edition of seven, allowing a newly created concept and meaning to live on its own in the digitalised world.

While his art can be interpreted in many ways, Rikizo himself likes to emphasise that it is the role of the viewers to find their own meaning.

In 1981, the famous French poet Louis Aragon already wrote "Rikizo's art needs not be told with words, we shall let our imagination dream..."

Each painting is 36x36cm and is physically available for purchase.

Rikizo x Kazu collection image

Born in 1946 in Japan, Rikizo started painting at 24 when he moved to Paris in 1971. In the early years of his stay in Europe, he worked at the ILO (United Nations) as Chief programmer. In 1981, he resigned, to dedicate himself to painting exclusively. After actively pursuing his art in Europe for over 25 years, he had his first exhibition in Japan in 1999. During this period, he did many FIAC in Grand Palais Paris, and worked with prestigious galleries such as Birch in Copenhagen or Tamenaga in Paris, Tokyo. His signature red-and-black paintings have been exhibited in some prestigious historic places such as Kodaiji Temple, in Kyoto, or Blois castle in the Loire Valley, where the surroundings enhanced their full dimension. His work has been described by contemporaries as an expression of Buddhism principles and a continuation of Japanese calligraphy. On 2021, Rikizo has partnered with his son Kazu myself to expand his art to the digital world. www.rikizo.fr for more information.

Contract Address0x495f...7b5e
Token ID
Token StandardERC-1155
ChainEthereum
MetadataCentralized
Creator Fee
info
10%

Kishōtenketsu

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Kishōtenketsu: is this the end or the beginning?

From the day we are born, we are confronted to a world that is structured in such a way that it is often impossible to enjoy real freedom in our relationship with the environment or with others. For instance, traditionally, we are strongly advised, whenever we are discussing a topic, to conform to a clear structure based on specific examples that support and clarify the reasoning behind the discussion. Such a kind of universal narrative structure is also found in art.

Whether it is the Tales of 1001 Arabian nights, the adventures of Harry Potter, a Super Mario video game or an Ed Sheeran hit, they all have in common that they follow the same pattern: introduction, development, twist, and conclusion. Such a pattern is not specific to the Western way of thinking; it can also be found in Asia and, particularly, in Japan where it has been known for hundred of years as Kishōtenketsu, written as

  • Introduction (ki)
  • Development (shō)
  • Twist (ten)
  • Conclusion (ketsu)

The piece shown here has been designed so as to highlight such narrative structure in Rikizo's paintings. However, before getting to a more detailed analysis, one should introduce the artist and his work.

Rikizo

Born in 1946 in Japan, Rikizo started painting at twenty-five, when he moved to Paris. In the early years of his stay in Europe, he worked as Chief programmer at the ILO (United Nations). In 1981, he resigned, to dedicate himself to painting exclusively. After actively pursuing his art in Europe for over 25 years, he had his first exhibition in Japan in 1999. During this period, he participated in many FIAC (Grand Palais, Paris) and collaborated with prestigious galleries such as Birch in Copenhagen or Tamenaga in Paris and Tokyo. His signature red-and-black paintings have been exhibited in some prestigious historic places such as Kodaiji Temple in Kyoto, or Blois castle in the Loire Valley, where the surroundings enhanced their full impact. His work has been described by contemporaries as an expression of Buddhism principles and a continuation of Japanese calligraphy. In 2021, Rikizo and I, his son Kazu, initiated a partnership to give an added dimension to his work. Such a project has a deep and special meaning for Rikizo, from an ex-programmer perspective, as it is bringing his art into the digital world.

Understanding

During his career, Rikizo experimented with multiple ways of going beyond the physical limits of the canvas. Combining tatami-size canvases together to make a unique piece has become a distinctive aspect of his art, as illustrated by the unique fusumas (traditional Japanese opaque sliding doors) he donated to Kodai-Ji temple in Kyoto. This work, inaugurated in 2009, is the very first contemporary art ever displayed in a traditional temple. On the occasion, Rikizo also showcased for the first time his red-and-black byobu (traditional Japanese folding screens). More recently, at his 2019 exhibition in Paris, he assembled 48 of his 36x36 cm square oil paintings to create a monumental composition.

When he is painting multiple pieces or considering how to balance his compositions, Rikizo is constantly asking himself how to achieve perfect order, which, ultimately, leads him to reflect on relativity: is perception the same, depending on whether one reads from right to left - as Japanese generally do - or from left to right, as in the West? Is the end of a project really final or is it the beginning of a new one?

Such interrogations are precisely at the very bottom of our purpose. The artist selected sixteen paintings and placed them in a precise order that results in a four-parts narrative structure - what we called Kishōtenketsu. However, there is more than a single way to apprehend the whole: starting from the first painting, in the upper left corner, one can, for instance, either read the work horizontally or vertically. And this very same painting, taken as a starting point, can be considered as the final element, if one starts from the opposite corner.

The sixteen resulting paths lead us to ponder not only the issue of beginning and end but, more importantly, the overall notion of relativity in all kinds of fields. There is no right nor wrong way to proceed, just one own's specific way. Letting one's true self speak, while accepting diverging feelings or judgments, is the only way to respond to one's initial uneasiness. These are only a few of the questions emerging from our reaction in front of such a unique work.

Final words

This partnership led us to reflect on the definition of a work of art: is such a composition a unique piece that should be kept as one? Should each of its components have its own life and purpose as initially designed?

The NFT market answered both, as we decided to create unique compositions that would be produced in an edition of seven, allowing a newly created concept and meaning to live on its own in the digitalised world.

While his art can be interpreted in many ways, Rikizo himself likes to emphasise that it is the role of the viewers to find their own meaning.

In 1981, the famous French poet Louis Aragon already wrote "Rikizo's art needs not be told with words, we shall let our imagination dream..."

Each painting is 36x36cm and is physically available for purchase.

Rikizo x Kazu collection image

Born in 1946 in Japan, Rikizo started painting at 24 when he moved to Paris in 1971. In the early years of his stay in Europe, he worked at the ILO (United Nations) as Chief programmer. In 1981, he resigned, to dedicate himself to painting exclusively. After actively pursuing his art in Europe for over 25 years, he had his first exhibition in Japan in 1999. During this period, he did many FIAC in Grand Palais Paris, and worked with prestigious galleries such as Birch in Copenhagen or Tamenaga in Paris, Tokyo. His signature red-and-black paintings have been exhibited in some prestigious historic places such as Kodaiji Temple, in Kyoto, or Blois castle in the Loire Valley, where the surroundings enhanced their full dimension. His work has been described by contemporaries as an expression of Buddhism principles and a continuation of Japanese calligraphy. On 2021, Rikizo has partnered with his son Kazu myself to expand his art to the digital world. www.rikizo.fr for more information.

Contract Address0x495f...7b5e
Token ID
Token StandardERC-1155
ChainEthereum
MetadataCentralized
Creator Fee
info
10%
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Unit Price
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