To fully appreciate Sumi-e it helps to know a little bit about the technique. What you see are paintings on sensitive absorbent rice paper, made with a delicate brush loaded with pure ink. Brush, ink, and paper of such responsiveness are unknown in Western art. These materials respond to the slightest variation in pressure and speed; hesitation, corrections, or revisions are fatal. Western materials seem sluggish and inert in comparison.

The Oriental world is one to which man belongs, but which he does not dominate. Rather than applying paint to a surface, the artist is performing an uninhibited dance with the brush. The personality of the painter, his mood, and even the speed of execution are discernible from a single brush-stroke.

I do not strive to be unique; my job is to participate. I have become a time-traveller and use every interesting style to communicate with my friends in the ninth or the twenty-first century. Why should I try to be myself when I can be a bird?

I paint because what appears to us as the world wants to be known. And I am convinced that even in its exquisite horror it is profoundly beautiful.

Now a sweep of the brush
Ecstasy beyond words!