Nerina Lascelles

YUGEN (幽玄)

(japanese noun) - an awareness of the universe that triggers emotional responses too deep and mysterious to be described.

The title of this exhiition of paintings, Yūgen is said to mean “a profound, mysterious sense of the beauty of the universe…”
Yūgen is at the core of the appreciation of beauty and art in Japan and is an important concept in traditional Japanese aesthetics. Read More

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It values the power to evoke, rather that the ability to state directly. Yūgen is a Japanese word that has no English counterpart. It has been described as “strictly speaking ‘an untranslatable word’”. Furthermore to this, it is essentially an indescribable word, at least in the context of other words. Yūgen suggests that beyond what can be said but is not an allusion to another world. It is about this world, this experience. It describes the profound grace and subtlety inherent in all things. These ideals, and others, underpin much of Japanese cultural and aesthetic norms on what is consideredtastefulorbeautiful. Thus, while seen as a philosophyin Western societies, the concept of aesthetics in Japan is seen as an integral part of daily life.

In Japanese wakapoetry, the word Yūgen was used to describe the subtle profundity of things that are only vaguely suggested by the poems, and was also the name of a style of poetry. Japanese Haiku poetry also contains a strong element of. Yūgen The haiku offers a direct intuitive penetration into nature, and life, which offers insight, joy and truth to readers. A simple verse encapsulates a multi-sensory experience of the profound beauty of life.

Over the past decade, my work has been inspired by the sacred arts of a number of Asian countries, in particular, the arts of Japan. Be it a scroll painting, a monk’s calligraphy koan or a beautifully woven kimono, these ancient objects seem to encapsulate the essence of timeless simplicity and beauty that is inherent in all things. Such a concept offers a welcomed reprive from the stress, noise and hustle bustle of this modern day.

The paintings in this exhibition combine the influences of the ancient artwork from Japan, an understanding of Yūgen, the contemplation of traditional Japanese Haiku and a contemplation of the natural beauty of the natural environment. With a poetic reverence, monks and artists of ancient Japan painted beautiful depictions of their natural world; the seasons, flora and fauna.

It is with the same sensitivity and with the influence of the Japanese aesthetic that I have chosen to depict the Yūgen in the flight of a bird, flowering blossom or the perfection of pattern of the honeycomb in a bee hive.