Saturday, May 29, 2010
Throughout the course of Japanese art and aesthetics, specifically the two-dimensional works, we often observe how the works are dominated by large amounts of negative space. Even within this negative space we can still find vast amounts of detail. When I was visiting the Tokugawa art museum, several of the scrolls that they had on display depicted a celebration of the Tokugawa daimyo opening up a shrine within a major city. The paintings used vast amounts of negative space, very small subject matter and other artifacts within the painting. Even though the work may be dominated by negative space, within the smaller subject matter lies an incredible amount of elegant detail. The use of patterns gives the art perfect balance between simplism and elaborate detail.
As I’ve traveled through Japan I’ve noticed that many of their logos and emblems contain this same sort of simplicity. Many of the logos contain few words or numbers and are instead dominated by simple images. This tendency ranges from the cities’ symbols to restaurant signs and company logos and so forth. While these current designs lack the elaborate detail of the earlier Tokugawa works, they form a sort of elegance through their use of other western design concepts such as unification, symmetry, and other such ideas. And even though these newer designs lack the same attention to minute detail that their ancient and more formal predecessors possessed they still attain a certain elegance that we rarely see in the western world.