«Flying», (“Pouting Pope”) in homage to Ban’ya Natsuishi’s haiku book “Flying Pope”.

«Flying», oil on canvas, 50 x 50 cm., 2021. Thirteen years after I wrote my preface to Haiku master Ban’ya Natsuishi‘s iconic work «Flying Pope», I have decided to revisit and pay homage to the work in the form of an oil painting.

 

“Flying”, oil on canvas, 50 x 50 cm., 2021.

Commentary:

This raw, figurative painting is a significant update (if not a re-interpretation) of the original surrealistic exercise in “Flying Pope” by Ban’ya Natsuishi. The painting pictures myself in a self-portrait, looking up toward a skeptical and pouting Pope Francis who is flying high overhead — in the heavy fog-ladened and snowy Winter sky — while gazing nervously down at The Plague/COVID-19 Reaper, who is partially-concealed in shadows … lurking, and ready. The painting exhibits social distancing, as all three protagonists are deep within their own thoughts and concerns, but well aware of one another. One can wonder why the Pope has no one in his hot air balloon. But his job is perhaps not to save lives or souls, but rather to communicate the Love and Blessings of God Almighty to us … regardless of our individual fates. The ice-crystallized and sometimes violent brushstrokes of the white Expressionistic background voice a hurried sense of panic and trauma, but yet with a sense of being trapped in a padded cell, or in a vacuum — with a sense of helplessness not unlike that of experiencing a train wreck in slow motion. The effect is a disassociation between the figures, and from the Viewer to the protagonists. The figures capture the eye, but the only one who looks back at the Viewer is The Plague Reaper, whose blackened eye sockets are a real danger for the careless, and for the overly curious. The blank expanses in between the figures make the painting feel at once both unfinished and yet complete; it is an unfinished symphony — that can never be final. While the heavy abstract fog may perhaps impair our visibility immediately, we do not need to use our eyes to know that The Last Word is but an oxymoron; or thought expressed all too quickly. And that the apprehensive silence of the white expanse tells us much more Truth than the protagonists ever will. One thing is certain, the freezing cold ice crystals thickening the air and the three protagonists huddling within their own individual consciousness give little immediate sense of hope or solace.

 

“Haiku”, 65 x 90 cm., oil on canvas, is a textured abstract work that explores the haiku moment of fallen cherry tree blossoms scattered by the wind:
cherry tree blossoms
scatter beyond all fences.
kissed by a mild breeze.
Spring snow (Oil on canvas).
Spring snow — homage to Yukio Mishima (oil on canvas).

The novice struggles to make pretty feet dance in the wind, while the haiku of the master yawn and stretch toward infinity … like a century-old bonsai.

– Adam Donaldson Powell

Paintings and photo by Adam Donaldson Powell

Adam Donaldson Powell’s preface to the haiku collection “Flying Pope”, by Ban’ya Natsuishi:

A MODERN MASTER OF HAIKU PAINTS THE COLLECTIVE CONSCIENCE.

A gong sounds somewhere in the distance, and in the silence that ensues the reverberations of the collective conscience precipitate a collage of impressions that are at once familiar, and yet far beyond the accepted structures of perception. In this impressive collection of contemporary haiku, Ban’ya Natsuishi expertly challenges and coaxes the reader to join him in a flight of fancy – in and out of reality and illusion – not so unlike the great surrealist Salvador Dali. Both the reader and the flying pope take to the air, suspended above the Earth like an out-of-body experience … observing from afar, and yet experiencing the dream-like state as if it were totally real – as a sort of déjà vu recollection of the fringes between zazen and newspaper headlines … or perhaps the CNN rolling news texts, floating across the bottom of the television screen. While it may be tempting to point out Natsuishi as l’Enfant terrible of contemporary haiku writing, his impudence is not intended to shock. It is, in fact, this sense of detachment in the author that binds together the childlike, the serious, the sarcastic, the humorous and the reflective – resulting in a splattering of surrealistic images that pose far more questions to the reader than give blatant commentary. Because of the masterly free flying construction, the reader is just as easily won over to the haiku of Ban’ya Natsuishi as he/she might be to adventuresome comic books and animated films.

True enough, there is much observation embedded in these pearls of writing: sparkling semi-precious jewels singing, dancing, and jabbering now and then about such themes as politics, haiku writing without seasonal references, the loneliness of papal responsibility, and the burden of conscience. However, the real artistry of this work is perhaps the succession of painterly haiku frescoes, all variations on the same theme: the illusion of consciousness.

Do read this book several times – forward and backwards, and even starting in the middle and proceeding in any direction … sometimes dancing back and forth. There are many hidden levels within the poems, the silent connections in between the poems and in the work as a whole.

– Adam Donaldson Powell, 2008 (based upon the English version of “Flying Pope”). “Flying Pope” is published by Cyberwit.net.

image

集合的無意識を描く現代俳句の巨匠

夏石番矢『空飛ぶ法王』への序文

遠くのどこかで、そして沈黙のなかで、ゴングがなる。見慣れていながら、知覚が受け取った構造をはるかに超えた、さまざまな印象のコラージュを凝結させる集合的無意識の反響ののちの沈黙のなかで。現代俳句のこの印象的な句集において、夏石番矢は、幻想の飛行を彼とともにするよう、読者を挑発し、誘惑する。その幻想は、現実とまぼろしを出入りし、偉大な超現実主義者サルバドール・ダリと、それほどは似てはいない。読者と空飛ぶ法王の両者は、空中へおもむき、地球上空に体外体験のように宙吊りにされ、はるかかなたより観察し、そして夢のような状態を、まったく現実のように、座禅と新聞の見出しのあいだの縞模様のデジャヴュの回想として、あるいは、たぶんテレビ画面の下で漂いながら、展開してゆくCNNニュースの情報のように、経験する。夏石番矢を、現代俳句の「恐るべき子供」と指摘したくなる誘惑にかられながらも、彼の大胆さは、衝撃を与えるためではない。それは、実際は、子供じみた、真剣な、毒舌の、ユーモラスな、そして省察的なものを束ねあげる、著者の超然性の感覚なのである。これは、見え透いた説明を与えるよりも、ずっと多くの疑問を読者に投げかける超現実主義的イメージのざわめきとなっている。名人技の自由飛行の構成のため、読者はまさに、夏石番矢の俳句に、彼もしくは彼女として、冒険的な漫画本やアニメ映画によるように、簡単に納得する。

十分に真実だ。ここには、次のような創作の真珠に埋め込まれた、多大な観察がある。政治、無季俳句創作、責任ある法王の孤独、そして良心の重荷といったテーマについての、歌い、踊り、ときどき早口で語る準宝石の輝き。しかしながら、夏石番矢のこの作品のほんとうの芸術手腕はおそらく、画家はだしのフレスコ画俳句の連続であろうし、「まぼろしである意識」という同じテーマの、すべてのバリエーションであろう。

この本を何度も読みたまえ、前から後ろから、真ん中からさえ始めたまえ、そして、どの方向へも進みたまえ、ときには後ろへ前へと踊りながら。これらの詩のなかに、隠された多数のレベルがあり、詩のあいだのなかに、さらに全体としての作品のなかに、沈黙の関連がある。

アダム・ドナルドソン・パウエル 2008年 (英語版『空飛ぶ法王』に準拠)

Painting: Oil on Canvas. « Shadow » – 影, 65 x 90 cm., oil on canvas, is a black-grey-white over-sized portrait-study aiming at depicting deep thinking. The semi-realistic style aims for simplicity and shadow play, with a minimum of detail and light. The focal point of the exaggerated eye serves as a portal into the Inner Self. The darkness provides a sense of intimacy, privacy, secrecy and protection. There is solace in the shadow.

Painting by Adam Donaldson Powell.

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