Nerina Lascelles


‘Japonism’ is the term used to describe the influence of the Arts of Japan on artists of the West. Ever since the very first contact in the sixteenth century, Japan has always possessed an irresistable fascination for the Western culture. The allure was only increased when Japanese ports reopened to trade with the West in 1853 and a tidal wave of foreign imports flooded European shores. It is said that Japonism originated when F. Braquemond of Paris came across a copy of aHokusai Mangaused for packaging porcelain in the 1850s. Read More

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The Japanese asthetic greatly inspired the Impressionism, Post-Impressionism and Art Nouveau. Artists were especially affected by the asymmetry and irregularity of Japanese art. Japanese art consisted of off-centered arrangements with no perspective, light with no shadows, and vibrant colors both plain and patterned surfaces. Other infuences were the elongated pictorial formats, aerial perspective, spaces emptied of all but abstract elements of color and line, and a focus on singularly decorative motifs.

Japanese woodcut prints by masters of the ukiyo-e school which transformed Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art by demonstrating that simple, transitory, everyday subjects could be presented in appealingly decorative ways. 

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 Zen Buddhist philosophy and a contemplation of the natural beauty of the Australian bush. 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 commonly overlooked objects including branches of gum leaves, flowering blossom or a flowing stream.

Having lived in this native indigenous landscape of Nillumbik all of my life, one can so easily overlook the subtlety and fragility if these delicate blooms surrounded by hardy bush.

With regards to this body of work, my intention is to offer a new and fresh insight on everyday elements by taking them out of a familiar setting and placing them into a new environment.

In these paintings I offer Australian flora a sense of space which it may not have had in its natural environment.

Areas of empty space rest beside the magnification of leaves and flowers, allowing the viewer to experience both a focus the shapes and also the space to contemplate the details of these forms. The voids of space within these works suggest a magical, ‘alive’ dimension beyond the material. ‘Form’ and the ‘formless’ combine to create a sense of harmonious balance.