an act of one instant
Kazuaki Tanahashi, born and trained in Japan and active in the United States since 1977, has had solo exhibitions of his calligraphic paintings internationally. He has taught East Asian calligraphy at eight international conferences of calligraphy and lettering arts. Also a peace and environmental worker for decades, he is a Fellow of the World Academy of Art and Science.
If each moment is our entire life, how dare we kill time?
If each stroke is our entire breath, how dare we correct it?
You can’t hide anything in a line. You are there whatever line you draw.
And you will stay there, even when you go somewhere else.
If your personality is interesting enough, the line will be interesting.
To do this you have to be fearless.
What pleases our eyes is not dangerous enough.
Miracles of Each Moment, blue
original multi-color one-stroke circle.
acrylic on canvas, scroll, 30″ x 36″
In the Zen tradition ensos, or circle symbols,
have been drawn with black ink on paper, to represent enlightenment.
As the multi-colored flow of paint represents the interconnectedness
of all life, each circle reflects my hopes, visions and aspirations
for a world making a healthier choices
for the benefit of future generations.
Kazuaki Tanahashi doesn’t broadcast his words on the web – it’s been a challenge to track down his ponderings although his website has plenty of examples of his work. But I’ve wanted to feature his work here for a long time so I am making a very subjective exception to the normal presentation format of these pages by publishing some examples of his work alongside a beautiful passage from D T Suzuki. They just seem to go together.
original one-stroke calligraphy.
acrylic on canvas, scroll. 30″ x 36″
Life delineates itself on the canvas called time, and time never repeats; once gone, forever gone; and so is an act once done, it is never undone. Life is a sumiye-painting which must be executed once and for all time and without hesitation, without intellection, and no corrections are permissible or possible. Life is not like an oil painting, which can be rubbed out and done over time and again until the artist is satisfied. With a sumiye-painting any brush stroke painted over a second time results in a smudge; the life has left it. All corrections show when the ink dries. So is life. We can never retract what we have committed to deeds; Zen therefore ought to be caught while the thing is going, neither before nor after. It is an act of one instant. This fleeting, unrepeatable and ungraspable character of life is delineated graphically by Zen masters who have compared it to lightning or sparks produced by percussion of stones.
The idea of direct method appealed to by masters is to get hold of this fleeting life as it flees and not after it has flown.
– D T Suzuki, Essays in Zen Buddhism, vol. 1
Images © copyright Kazuaki Tanahashi
– Kazuaki Tanahashi