Book Launch and Talk – ZEN LANDSCAPES: Perspectives on Japanese Gardens and Ceramics


The Japan Foundation is delighted to present this special book launch of ‘ZEN LANDSCAPES: Perspectives on Japanese Gardens and Ceramics’ – the first in-depth study in the West to examine the correspondences between Japanese gardens and ceramics. The evening will feature a talk from the book’s author, Allen S. Weiss (New York University), who will discuss the interrelations between Japanese gardens and the arts in Japanese culture, specifically focusing on the issue of the limits of representation.

Synopsis – ZEN LANDSCAPES: Perspectives on Japanese Gardens & Ceramics

The essential elements of the dry Japanese garden are few: rocks, gravel, moss. Simultaneously a sensual matrix, a symbolic form and a mythic domain, these gardens exhibit precise craftsmanship and exquisite miniaturization. However, their apparent minimalism belies a profound complexity, which must be approached according to the play of scale, surroundings and seasons, and especially in relation to the other arts, thus allowing us to experience them as living landscapes rather than as merely abstracted design.

These gardens partake of the Zen aesthetics of the tea ceremony, which also permeates Japanese poetry, painting, calligraphy, architecture, cuisine and ceramics, all of which entail different modes of representation. Japanese art favours suggestion and allusion, the indistinct over the literal: the moment when objects emerge or disappear, and the border between figuration and abstraction, are particularly valued. This is an art of the incipient and the potential, inspired by the intimation of continual transformation. This book shows how ceramics – seen as the very sublimation of the earth – plays a crucial role related at once to the site-specificity of gardens, to the ritualized codes of the tea ceremony and to the everyday gestures of the culinary table.

Zen Landscapes is the first in-depth study in the West to examine the correspondences between gardens and ceramics, suggesting new implications for theories of representation, arguing for the rightful place of ceramics among the fine arts and above all revealing original ways of seeing.

Date: 3 October 2013 from 6.30pm
Venue: The Japan Foundation, London

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