"Gakyō Rōjin Manji" - The Old Man Mad About Art

"From around the age of six, I had the habit of sketching from life. I became an artist, and from fifty on began producing works that won some reputation, but nothing I did before the age of seventy was worthy of attention. At seventy-three, I began to grasp the structures of birds and beasts, insects and fish, and of the way plants grow. If I go on trying, I will surely understand them still better by the time I am eighty-six, so that by ninety I will have penetrated to their essential nature. At one hundred, I may well have a positively divine understanding of them, while at one hundred and thirty, forty, or more I will have reached the stage where every dot and every stroke I paint will be alive. May Heaven, that grants long life, give me the chance to prove that this is no lie."

Katsushika Hokusai (1834)

from the postscript at the first volume "One Hundred Views Of Mount Fuji"


These words written by Hokusai in mature age, at the top of his fame, describe the characteristics of those who devoted in the past and currently commit to this exercise of painting: humility, curiosity, perseverance, assertiveness, all topped off with a healthy dash of selfishness.

What connects me to this Japanese artist of the 19th century? Everything and nothing. Though  stylistic figures aesthetically differ, I feel spiritually close to this "old fool for painting" as he liked to call himself. I feel a deep devotion not only because of his genius and talent, but mostly for his approach to art and life.

A few lines for a proper recognition to a man whose life has changed mine.


Franco Sita (2012)