Japonaiserie

Japonaiserie (19 March 2015)

Japonaiserie (19 March 2015)

Whilst the arrangement of the items in this photograph (taken today in Cuba Street, Wellington) has little or nothing to do with Japanese art, my ‘seeing’ was certainly influenced by it.

The Dutch post-impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh used the term Japonaiserie to express the influence of Japanese art.

In a letter to Theo, his younger brother, Vincent wrote: “One of [Jules] De Goncourt’s sayings was ‘Japonaiserie for ever’. Well, these docks [at Arnhem] are one huge Japonaiserie, fantastic, singular, strange … I mean, the figures there are always in motion, one sees them in the most peculiar settings, everything fantastic, and interesting contrasts keep appearing of their own accord.”

“The West moistens everything with meaning like an authoritarian religion which imposes baptism on entire peoples.” (Roland Barthes, in Empire of Signs)

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