Uncombed from Kyoto

prof. Elżbieta Banecka
(Academy of Fine Arts, Warsaw)

The proofs for my inspiration by art and culture of the Far East can be found in my artworks, work methods and artistic experiments close to thinking that has its roots in Indian, Chinese and Japanese Buddhism. The emotions that I experienced encountering a foreign culture that eventually and unexpectedly became so close to me, bore fruit after a couple of years in the shape of i.a. a series of graphics entitled “Uncombed from Kyoto”.

In 1991 I sent one of my diploma works to the competition organised within the framework of in International Graphics Triennial in Osaka. Having received one of the main prizes I was invited to come to Osaka. When I was there, I decided to travel around Japan. In Kyoto I went to places that were not frequented by common tourists. I visited a lot of Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines and in their interiors I got acquainted with the dissimilarity of unknown religious cult and poetics of prayer gestures. The biggest impression was made on my by the stone garden adjacent to Ryoanji temple, which is perceived to be a splendid example of the art of Zen. I was also lucky to observe the unique ritual of “combing” the garden grit. Each day one of the monks living in the Ryoanji temple, with precision and ceremonial movement harmony almost close to dancing, raked a new drawing which ran parallel to the furrow; around the moss-covered stones, the monk drew concentrically spreading circles.

The cycle of my works entitled “Uncombed from Kyoto” was supposed to be the quintessence of simplicity of a certain composition scheme with intriguing structure and texture. Throughout my entire life, I have been looking for a perfect composition. I am also fascinated by this special repetitiveness which cannot be repeated – present in everyday ceremonial performed in the Ryoanji garden. This problem concerns me because in graphics it is precisely the unrepeatability and uniqueness that has always interested me the most. Even if I copy the same graphics (input trail), each time I also make changes. I do it similarly to the monk who, by copying the ritual-dictated gestures every day, each time creates a new scheme from sand and stones.