The title of this painting is “Mifuji” (beautiful wisteria). It reminds me of an experience I had as an elementary school student in the US. I had climbed over the fence behind the school and entered the woods which were off-limits to us. In there was a clearing, and a mass of fragrant wild wisteria hanging in the bright sun. That magical vision has stayed with me until this day. Wisterias were a favorite subject for my paintings during High School and in college in the US. Even now, they are a motif I return to again and again.
For this painting, I approached it as a portrait of the person’s essence, rather than their physical characteristics. It has a cheerful sky with copper and gold clouds. In the background I painted the words to the Noh drama play “Fuji”, using a fluid cursive script. In the Noh play “Fuji” the female spirit of wisteria blossoms takes the shape of an elegant princess who performs a special dance before fortunate witnesses. We can imagine the refined beauty of the person who inspired this painting.
Born in 1962 in the US, Allan West settled in Tokyo and eventually graduated with a Master of Fine Arts from Tokyo University of the Arts. You can visit his open studio in Yanaka, Tokyo.
text & artwork / Allan West
coordination / Mariko Takahashi
photo / Keiji Okazaki