Sunday, November 20, 2016

Defining Shibui

Shibui 1, collage by Donna Watson

Shibui (or Shibusa) is an enriched, subdued appearance or experience with economy of form, line and effort, producing a timeless tranquility.  Shibui objects appear to be simple overall but they include subtle details, such as textures, that balance simplicity with complexity.

The aspects of things that are most important
for us are hidden because of their 
simplicity and familiarity.
--- Ludwig Wittgenstein

Shibui 2, collage by Donna Watson

This balance of simplicity and complexity ensures that one does not tire of a shibui object but constantly finds new meanings and enriched beauty that cause its aesthetic value to grow over the years.  Shibui should not be confused with wabi sabi.  Shibui objects are not necessarily imperfect or 
asymmetrical, though they can include those qualities.

If one's life is simple, contentment has to come.  Simplicity is 
extremely important for happiness.
--- The Dalai Lama

Shibui 3, collage by Donna Watson

The colors of shibui are 'muddy' colors.  For example, in painting, gray is added to primary colors to 
create a silvery effect that ties the different colors together into a coordinated scheme.  Depending on how much gray is added, shibui colors range from pastels to dark.  Occasionally, a patch of brighter
color is added as a highlight.

Shibui 4, collage by Donna Watson

The seven elements of shibui are simplicity, implicity, modesty, silence, naturalness, everydayness and imperfection.  The simplicity is the expression of the essence of the elements.  Implicity allows depth of feeling to be visible through a spare surface.  The person of modesty exalts excellence by taking time to learn, watch, understand that merges into silence.  Naturalness conveys spontaneity in growth, unforced.  Everydayness raises ordinary things to a place of honor. Imperfection suggests
imagination at work, instead of a finished picture that provides all the answers.

small collage by Donna Watson, with various objects, image taken by Donna Watson

 Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the LIGHT gets in.
--- Leonard Cohen, RIP, 2016



20 comments:

india flint said...

we seem to be singing from the same page....i have an exhibition doing the rounds that references shibusa, and also a class at Maiwa next year. zeitgeist at work?

ELFI said...

simplement 'ZEN' et beau!

Roberta Warshaw said...

Beautiful. I am just now learning about adding grey to primary colors in order to get some lovely colors that work well together.

Aine Scannell said...

beautiful balanced pieces and love the subtlety

ronnie said...

I was about to comment --- "oo look the universe is giving me shibusa everywhere I go" but I notice that india (where I first spied the word) has already chimed in ..... serendipity ...

lovely post xxxxx

annell said...

What a wonderful post. Thank you so much for coming by. Happy Thanksgiving.

Tammie Lee said...

There is a soothing feeling to your pieces.

Sharmon Davidson said...

Thanks for sharing the concept of shibui, of which your collages are beautiful examples. I love the simplicity and tonal variations. One of my favorite Leonard Cohen quotes, too. He will be missed.

Barry said...

Hi D - love the subtly of the colours and textures. B

Caterina Giglio said...

beautiful work, balance.. complexity and texture...

Ruth Andre said...

Nice to see these lovely works.

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Anonymous said...

I read a lot of essays about Pablo Picasso (now in my college I write a great study about his work). And I came up with the idea that you can apply the Shibui method to his creativity, especially to later works with elements of Cubism and clear geometry.

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