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Delicate Strings of the Artist’s Soul

Getting into the hall you can feel yourself as if entered in the world of Japanese art. In the center of a small but cozy room the board placed with bamboo samples on it. A few days ago I attended the first class of training of Japanese sumi-e ink paintings, during which we learned to paint the bamboo.

The Ikuo Hirayama International Caravanserai of Culture is hosting an exhibition, ‘Delicate Strings of My Soul’, by the master of the Japanese sumi-e painting Gayane Metevosyan. The exposition presented the artist’s best 39 works, including landscapes, drawings and calligraphy. Sumi-e painting appeared in China during the Song Dynasty. It penetrated in Japan in the 14th century. Sumi-e is a combination of two Japanese words that means ‘ink’ (sumi) and ‘painting’ (e). That is sumi-e is a type of monochrome painting, like a watercolor. The difference is that it contains not only a black color, but also a wide range of gray colors. All this seems to be only a matter of technique, but the philosophical sense is very important at that.
The exhibition is divided into two parts on the basis of monochrome and polychrome images. The first room presents the hieroglyphs and paintings made in one tone. Cat, painted in one color, without any details looks so realistic that one could wish to stroke its soft fur. And the second hall displays the beautiful landscapes, painted in color. The flowers painted in bright colors fascinate with their subtlety.
Giving some to admire the exhibits, Gayane invited us to the room, where she trains attendees. The walls of the room are decorated with Sumi-e made by Japanese masters. The table of the artist located on the center of the room is filled with the tools for creativity: the brushes on the wooden base, a porcelain water pot, a felt pad under the paper, paperweight and rice paper.
Trainings started in September, which are attended by people of different age. The first class was dedicated to the bamboo painting.
“I asked to cut a couple of branches of bamboo growing in the courtyard of the Caravanserai so we learned to paint from nature,” says Metevosyan. “Any willing could attend the trainings, even those who can not draw, but really wants to learn. It is planned that the best student works will be presented at the exhibition in January next year.”
Metevosyan took an interest in Japanese culture during the preparation of scenery for the filming of Japanese movie in 2007. She went to the cultural center to gather information and to enroll in calligraphy and Japanese language classes. She attended the trainings in the Japanese Center for three years, and then winning the calligraphy contest, started teaching.
“The first step in mastering the skills of sumi-e is the training of technique: evenness of lines and clarity of strokes. But even before you start painting, you should meditate and think what you want to paint and why. Having mastered the technique, the artist should not just stamp the pictures one by one, but fill every of them with sense,” says Gayane. “Traditionally, sumi-e painting is accompanied by a haiku, the genre of Japanese poetry, in which the poem consists of three sentences in length in three lines. Thus, the painting becomes not just a picture, but is filled with philosophical meaning.”
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