the artist's statement

This World of Ours...

In the past two decades I have created numerous projects with a literary base. This World of Ours... is latest in this series. The sixty paintings in this exhibit are based on haiku poems by Kobayashi Issa (1763-1828), who is considered to be one of the four greatest masters of the Japanese haiku tradition. Issa's short poems explore nearly all aspects of human experience with delightful brevity. In my selection of poems for this project I favored those that had qualities I knew I would enjoy translating to visual form. The poems were translated from Japanese by David G. Lanoue of Xavier University of Louisiana and were used by his permission. If you would enjoy reading more of Issa's haiku, I invite you to go to Professor Lanoue's website, where he has ten thousand (that is right -- ten thousand) of Issa’s poems translated for the public.

The works of art in this showing are painted with acrylic (mostly Golden Fluid Acrylics) on watercolor paper (300 lb. Fabriano Artistico soft press). The linen scroll presentation alludes to traditional Japanese scrolls and also creates a light-weight method of touring the exhibition.

A number of the haiku I chose might be viewed as being melancholy -- dealing with topics such as death and loss. What appeals to me in these poems is the clear sense of acceptance and non-resistance. These are qualities that I find (as I grow older) to be of the utmost importance to live a life of contentment. The paintings were a joy for me to do. My hope is that they will also be a joy for your viewing.

The South Dakota tour of this exhibit received partial funding from the South Dakota Arts Council, provided with funds from the State of South Dakota, through the Department of Tourism and State Development, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Purchase the entire e-book here: Issa 108: Haiku by Kobayashi Issa, Paintings by Mark W. McGinnis.

Mark W. McGinnis