(Japan 1965 – )
116.0 x 72.0 cm image; 120.0 x 77.5 cm 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, Contemporary Japanese Prints : The Urban Bonsai, Sydney, 1992, 32, 33, 41 (colour illus.). cat.no. 17
The Urban Bonsai: