Category Archives: hand

A frog and a rooster

“A story, doubtless true in the life of such a man, tells us how Hokusai tried to paint without the use of his hands. It is said that one day, having unrolled his scroll of paper on the floor before the Shogu, he poured over it a pot of blue paint; then, dipping the claws of a rooster in a pot of red paint, he made the bird run across the scroll and leave its tracks on it.

Everyone present recognized in them the waters of the stream called Tatsouta carrying along maple leaves reddened by the autumn. A charming piece of sorcery, in which nature seems to work unaccompanied to reproduce nature. The spreading blue color flows into divided streams like a real wave, and the bird’s claw, with it’s separated and united elements, is like the structure of a leaf. Its nearly weightless trace makes accents unequaled in force and purity; its path respects, but with the nuances of life, the intervals setting apart the delicate flotsam that the rapid water sweeps along.

Can any hand translate the regular and the irregular, the accidental and the logical in this procession of things almost without body, but not without form, on the surface of a mountain stream? Very much so: the hand of Hokusai. For the memory of long experiment with his hands on the different ways of evoking life brought him, magician as he was, to attempt even this. The hands are present without showing themselves, and, though touching nothing, they order everything.”

Story: Henri Focillon, The Life of Forms in Art. Zone Books, 1992
Image: Current OSP logo; it’s abstraction results from IRC-operated Scribus manipulations. See also: and