Michael Frank Stitt スティット マイケル (b.1961) is an Australian artist, composer and twice-award-winning landscape architect. After working in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as a landscape architect, in 2016 an opportunity became available to spend three months studying the Naguata Shamisen, a three-stringed Japanese instrument, in Chofu City, Tokyo. It was there that Michael became fascinated with Japanese gardens, music and ink painting (Sumi-e). At the heart of his Sumi-e works is the desire to achieve both the Zen philosophy and the Japanese notion of wabi-sabi.
Wabi-Sabi 侘寂 is an almost unique concept in Japanese culture. It can be defined as a worldview centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. An aesthetic beauty that is derived from the "imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete". It is a concept derived from the Buddhist teaching of the three marks of existence, specifically “impermanence, suffering and emptiness” (or absence of self-nature). Characteristics of the Wabi-Sabi aesthetics include simplicity, economy, asymmetry, roughness, austerity, and modesty.
The objective of Michael’s artistic expression is to obtain the maximum visual effect with the minimum of ink applied. Hence, enough ink to convey the idea, and for the viewer to complete the picture through their imagination.
In practicing Sumi-e he applies different shades of grey using water and black ink providing an infinite array of design capability. The narrative conveyed is a reverence and respect for nature, with humanity being depicted, metaphorically, as being in harmony with the ecologically rich natural world. Mountains and landscapes are portrayed as the most important element of the painting, aiming for both the painter and viewer to meditate on the ideal paradigm of the natural order of the landscape.
Michael now paints Sumi-e landscape and uses them as musical inspiration for piano improvisations.
This review was published by Circle Foundation for the Arts © CFA Press ∙ Images are courtesy of the artist