Illustration: Dennis Potter. Big Boro
Japan and Japanese culture has both fascinated and inspired creative individuals across the planet for generations. The defined nature of Japanese culture, both in the visual and in the conceptual, lends itself to a broad interpretation and reinterpretation by artists from a range of backgrounds and disciplines.
The artist Dennis Potter is inspired by a number of different elements of Japanese, and East Asian culture. He has travelled and lived in a number of environments through East Asia, and has been correspondingly influenced within his creative work by those environments.
Illustration: Dennis Potter. Big Boro, detail
One specifically Japanese inspired creative theme that Dennis has used in his work, is that of the kimono, more specifically the hakui, which is a kimono worn by Buddhist pilgrims who circumambulate the Japanese island of Shikoku. This specific and simple garment works as a metaphor for experience and memory, because it is inscribed with both printed seals and brush painted blessings and sutra written by monks visited by the pilgrim whilst wearing the kimono.
The kimono of the pilgrim becomes the skin of their experience whilst they are on the island. It becomes transformed by creative art, and by the experience of the pilgrimage. Therefore, walking the long treacherous path around the island, the kimono becomes worn, stained, rain washed, and faded, it becomes an artwork of experience, the experience of the pilgrimage, and in turn the experience of the pilgrim.
Illustration: Dennis Potter. Japanese Rain kimono
Dennis has taken the idea of the pilgrimage kimono and worked it creatively into his work. The kimono's that he produces are a cultural hybrid, or "quote" of the hakui, taken from the stance of a westerner with a painterly background.
Dennis works in a range of materials and has very much based himself within the mixed media discipline. His kimono's are complex layered works that use and reuse themselves within each composition. In many respects, the artist plays with the conceptualisation of the pilgrimage, the idea that a costume can become a noted pathway of experience, that it can highlight moments and directions, pauses and changes in direction, the fundamental apparatus of all our lives, the trajectory of our experiences.
Illustration: Dennis Potter. Flax kimono
These are indeed extraordinary pieces that tell of the unique experience of the artist, but also tell us something of ourselves. Dennis kimono's show us the patchwork of our lives, the bringing together of experiences, connections, meetings, and partings, of the joy and confusion, the calmness and stress, the jumble of contradictions that is a life lived.
This article can only show a small sample of the artists kimono work, which in turn is a small sample of the artist's life work. Dennis has a wealth of creative and observational experience, and he pours that liberally into his work, hence the great range of work that he has been producing. His work can be found at his comprehensive facebook site, where he has arranged an album of his kimono compositions, as well as regular updates of his work in progress.
Illustration: Dennis Potter. Flax kimono, detail
Please be aware that the images for this article were kindly supplied by Dennis, and are therefore his property, please don't use them without prior permission from Dennis himself.