(Japan 1965– )
116.0 x 72.0cm image; 120.0 x 77.5cm sheet
This lush, poetic print reiterates the traditional Japanese sensitivity to the nuances of seasonal changes. Japanese poetry is rich in evocations of spring mist and rain-appreciated for their intrinsic beauty as much as for their associations with the ephemeral and transient. In depicting the scene from her studio early in the morning after working all night, Hirai has captured the poignant sense of intimacy and loneliness that a veil of mist can evoke. The subtle colours reflect a native sensibility towards neutrals and greys - an aesthetic reflected in various poems and essays, and maintained even today in the preference for the stone and metallic facings on modem buildings. Also traditional to Japanese aesthetics is the quality of suggestiveness - here captured beautifully where the mood is intensified and enriched by its very ambiguity and mystery. By deliberately responding to the theme of the urban bonsai by not depicting the bonsai, but only the urban atmosphere in which such a thing might grow, Hirai unconsciously continues a deeply rooted and ancient Japanese aesthetic of ambiguous implication, that in literature is best expressed in 'haiku'.
Hirai has obtained the moist atmospheric effect through applying many layers of colour. In 1991 she won a major prize at the Japan Print Association's annual exhibition for a similar work to this.
Jackie Menzies, Contemporary Japanese Prints: The Urban Bonsai, 1992, pg. 32-33.
Jackie Menzies (Australia) (Author), Contemporary Japanese Prints : The Urban Bonsai, Sydney, 1992, 32, 33, 41 (colour illus.). cat.no. 17
The Urban Bonsai, Queensland Art Gallery, 04 Mar 1992–04 May 1992.
The Urban Bonsai, National Art Gallery, Wellington, 20 Jun 1992–09 Aug 1992.
The Urban Bonsai, Christchurch Art Gallery, 12 Sep 1992–29 Oct 1992.
The Urban Bonsai, Manawatu Art Gallery, 13 Nov 1992–10 Jan 1993.
The Urban Bonsai, The George Adams Gallery, Victorian Arts Centre, 18 Mar 1993–25 Apr 1993.
The Urban Bonsai, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 08 May 1993–01 Aug 1993.
The Urban Bonsai, Lewers Bequest and Penrith Regional Art Gallery, 11 Mar 1994–24 Apr 1994.
The Urban Bonsai, The Drill Hall Gallery, Australian National University, 19 May 1994–19 Jun 1994.
The Urban Bonsai, Campbelltown Arts Centre, 15 Jul 1994–21 Aug 1994.
The Urban Bonsai, Moree Plains Gallery, 11 Nov 1994–24 Dec 1994.
The Urban Bonsai, Tweed River Regional Art Gallery, 01 Feb 1995–05 Mar 1995.