Nordic Japonism

Scroll this

There are times in life when everything feels stuck and stale. No creativity, no energy, no flow. Feelings of disconnection and loneliness. After wallowing in the darkness of my thoughts for a couple of days, I usually take action. Preferably just before I hit rock bottom. And that’s how I found myself at home browsing through Japanese watercolor paintings that I acquired at an auction some time ago. Hand-painted vintage beauties, studies for a folding screen, ever so slightly discoloured and stained. I had already decided that I wanted them on display in one of Lescure’s guest rooms, funnily enough the one I’m decorating Nordic style. I spent hours contemplating this room, studying the shadows, the changing light and its effect on the watercolours. Recalling that day of reflection made me think of the late Jan Hoet, Belgium’s most passionate art curator. So I reread the interview in which he compares the process of hanging art work to meditation, requiring solitude and concentration.


Next for inspiration, I found myself perusing books in the shop of the Sieboldhuis (Leiden’s Japan museum) to come across a book about Japanomania in the Nordic countries. This new publication is a study of Japanese influence on the visual arts in the North and accompanies an innovative exhibition. How comforting to know that I was in the South of France, contemplating a space a la Hoet and intuitively marrying the decorative beauty of Japanese design with Nordic freshness like an adventurous curatorial team. All of this makes me realise that nothing we do, read or write, is quite by accident. We’re all able to catch creative ideas, intuition and inspiration from the same source. And there’s nothing disconnected or lonely about it.

Jan Hoet. Hans den Hartog Jager. 2014 
Japanomania in the Nordic Countries, 1875 – 1918.Edited by Gabriel P. Weisberg, Anna-Maria von Bonsdorff, and Hanne Selkokari. 2016

1 Comment

Submit a comment