Each Moment, Only Once: The Paintings of Herbert Sax

[P]ainting in ink with the long-haired, oriental brush fundamentally changed my possibilities of expression, which until then had relied on my sense of colour and composition executed mostly with the restrained technique of drawing.

My practise of un-pitsu (the technique of brush-movement) under the guidance of the late master Susumu Hiromoto, psychologically speaking, connected my inner awareness of the heart to the instinctive energies in my body, representing yin (the weak or receptive) and yang (the strong and aggressive), thus liberating , after initial and enormous difficulty, my own spontaneous brush gesture. Only in this act of the brush moving almost without thought, I discovered within myself layers of consciousness that, unlike the subconscious, are beyond my mental awareness: mu-shin (the void of heart), or as Paul Klee postulated it, intuition.

While on the one hand I have been learning and absorbing the oriental tradition, I have on the other hand infused this traditional medium of ink painting with contents I consciously or unconsciously felt needed expression. That is, I often brought the spontaneous gesture of the inkbrush to an otherwise only rationally conceived motive: the triangle, for instance. the triangle appears thus not as a representation of a rational concept, but rather it formed through the action of one-two-three.

Practicing brush movement in ink allows me, even nowadays, to re-connect in meditative gestures to the unknown stream of life in my being, and gradually over the last fifteen years, I have also expanded this ability to paint intuitively in colour – and this process is still ongoing.

kyoto journal logo red


Author's Bio


Purchase the Issue Here: