Miwa Komatsu’s Prayer Painting at Mont Saint Michel | News

Source Credit:  Content and images from Ocula Magazine.  Read the original article - https://ocula.com/magazine/art-news/miwa-komatsu-prayer-painting-at-mont-saint-michel/

The Japanese artist has given live painting performances promoting peace from Hiroshima to the north of France.

Artist Miwa Komatsu in Mont Saint Michel, France. Courtesy the artist.

On 18 November 2023, Miwa Komatsu knelt and prayed beneath the historic Mont-Saint-Michel Abbey. Following this moment of stillness, in front of a live audience, she danced between two canvases, adding circles of paint with her fingers, applying colour directly from the tube, and deftly wielding a brush.

The hour-long performance commemorated the 1,000th anniversary of Mont Saint Michel—a walled village located on a tidal island one kilometre off France’s northwest coast—and marked the signing of a Tourism Friendship City Partnership between Mont Saint Michel and the city of Hatsukaichi in Japan’s Hiroshima prefecture.

Born in Nagano in 1984, Komatsu graduated from Joshibi College of Art & Design, where she works as a visiting lecturer. Her works are in the collections of the World Trade Center and the Nagano Prefectural Art Museum, among many others.

Komatsu discussed with Ocula her art practice, transcending the ego, and the role artists can play in fostering peace.

Miwa Komatsu painting in Mont Saint Michel, France, in 2023.

Miwa Komatsu painting in Mont Saint Michel, France, in 2023. Courtesy the artist.

I read that you were highly receptive to ‘the invisible world’ as a child, sensing that ‘all beings were created equal in soul’. (Western readers might be familiar with Japanese animist beliefs from Miyazaki films like Spirited Away.) How does this sensitivity inform your art practice?

I was born and raised in a land surrounded by mountains. My playgrounds were the river and hills that even children could climb. In my interactions with nature, I truly felt and saw divine spirits. As an adult, I learned about traditions and myths of divine spirits appearing all over the world. I have learned much through engaging with these non-material beings with my brush and depicting them materially. Drawing divine beasts might stem from the surge of my spirituality. Divine spirits don’t meet your gaze as they look straight into the soul. When I become a being of soul alone, I wonder if I will be able to shine brilliantly, knowing that I am always being watched from the non-material world. After realising this, my current style, like drawing larger eyes, was established.

You have had a very varied career, exhibiting at the Chelsea Flower Show, working with brands such as Dior, and placing work in the collection of Disney in Japan. What have been highlights of your career so far, and how have they changed your art practice?

I consider everything a blessing from above, gifted to me for the growth of my soul. Whether seen as big or small by others, each event, without discrimination, brings some change and promotes growth.

Miwa Komatsu in Mont Saint Michel, France.

Miwa Komatsu in Mont Saint Michel, France. Courtesy the artist.

For the 1,000th anniversary of Mont Saint Michel—the walled commune established on a tidal island in Normandy—you undertook a live painting performance beneath its ancient abbey. What did you want to communicate through your performance?

I conduct live painting not as a performance, but as a sacred ritual. Mont Saint Michel is a holy island where Archangel Michael appeared. During my prayers facing this holy island, I felt overwhelmed with compassion. After learning about peace in Hiroshima and live painting at Itsukushima Shrine, I took up the brush as a form of friendship between the two cities. The energy of prayers felt while walking through the abbey resonated with my soul. It was a transformative day.

The Mont Saint Michel performance forms a kind of diptych with that live painting performance you gave in 2022 at the Itsukushima Shrine (Miyajima) in Hiroshima’s Hatsukaichi City. Can you tell us more about it?

Both Mont Saint Michel and Hatsukaichi City have sacred buildings on the sea listed as World Heritage Sites. Mont Saint Michel played a symbolic role in the Hundred Years’ War and the French Revolution, while Itsukushima Shrine speaks to the atomic bomb and World War II. I learned a new thing about the importance of prayers for peace from these two cities. As I painted, motifs learned from both cities emerged on my canvas, naturally leading me to incorporate ‘peace and compassion’ into my title. Mont Saint Michel and Itsukushima Shrine harmonise beyond religious barriers, joining hands. Perhaps we, too, should join hands without discrimination, moving towards peace with compassion.

What role can artists play to foster peace and harmony?

It’s about facing spirituality and praying. It’s an energy directed equally towards all living beings. Believing that all life is equal in soul, I draw and pray for harmony without exclusion or discrimination, hoping to contribute to the great harmony. This role will likely continue until my death.

Miwa Komatsu painting in Mont Saint Michel, France, in 2023.

Miwa Komatsu painting in Mont Saint Michel, France, in 2023. Courtesy the artist.

We usually think about art creation as a slow and methodical process. What does it mean to create art spontaneously in front of a live audience?

It’s about surrendering. It’s crucial to lose some of your ego, surrendering to the energy of the land, the energy of people, the memories of history, and the light of the future where live painting takes place. This might be close to what Ralph Waldo Emerson refers to as confronting the divinity and spirituality within oneself. Just like Kobo Daishi Kukai emphasised the importance of deep meditation, I hope both the audience and I can transcend the ego and reach a state of innocence.

At the end of 2023 you presented your solo show Sense of Sacredness at Whitestone Gallery in Singapore. What’s coming up for you in 2024?

I will have a solo exhibition at the Ashikaga Municipal Art Museum this month and I have received an offer from a museum in Italy.

In the fall and winter, I will be participating in a group exhibition called the exhibition Zipangu—Contemporary artists who ran through the Heisei era which will be held at the Saga Prefectural Art Museum and the Hiroshima Museum of Art with the theme of Japanese artists who appeared in the world during the Heisei era such as Yayoi Kusama, Takashi Murakami, Yoshitomo Nara, and others. —[O]

Source Credit:  Content and images from Ocula Magazine.  Read the original article - https://ocula.com/magazine/art-news/miwa-komatsu-prayer-painting-at-mont-saint-michel/