Had a conversation with Joe Doyle today, always a pleasure talking with and hearing about what inspired some of his work. I’ve been fortune enough to acquire a few of his Abstract Illusionism pieces with plans to continue.
During the conversation we spoke about some of his earliest work, one being “Star Chart” featured in galleries and a number of publications in the late 70’s. Though never specifically written about in any publication I can find, the real inspiration for the piece came from Polynesian navigation charts sometimes referred to as “stick charts”.
“These are deceptively simple grids made from small sticks and coconut fronds, which represent the major ocean swells in the South Pacific, with small shells showing the location of islands. The charts showed how the swells interacted with the island shores, the undersea slopes, and currents coming from different directions. While the stick maps were easy to construct, it took many years of study to be able to accurately interpret the real ocean dynamics which they represented.”
As one of my pet projects I hired someone to translate Hajime Kato’s (加藤一) Autobiography. I can’t imagine there is enough interest in actually publishing an English version of the book, so for the time being this is just for my own interest. The project began last year and we are slowly picking away at it. I hope to have it complete by the end of 2016.
The autobiography was originally published in 1987. Here’s a short excerpt from the intro. Keep in mind this has not been “edited”.
From the Atelier
Soft light of early autumn coming through the northern window and filling my atelier. It’s a quiet afternoon. I’m working in a classic atelier with entresol in Paris that’s as old as me. If this were in Japan, this type of building would be condemned, and no one would want to use it. However, here in Paris, it’s still very much usable. One draft sketch on the easel. I’m planning to have a private show in Tokyo in 1987, and this is the draft for one of my signature works, “transformer of the wind”. Based on this sketch, I’m going to create a large painting that’s 2 meters by 12 meters. Being loyal to the title, I’d like to paint the dynamic image of the wind’s transformation into wings filling the canvas. My racing bikes are hung upside down from the ceiling . I have 8 of those in total. Those bikes are specially ordered to perfectly fit my body type. I even have so-called “haute-couture” bicycles that could cost as much as a small car. A poet who’s visited my atelier before was amazed, describing it as “cicada’s wings”. He’s right, it’s almost transparent, very light, delicate and strong at the same time, and hardly looks like a device that crawls on the ground.
Those who don’t know about my biography get somewhat weirded out when they look at those bikes hung in the atelier. In fact, before I became a painter, I used to be a cycling sprinter and cycle racer. Bike-racing was my everything back then. However, in later years, I separated myself from the past and moved on as a painter. Painting became my life, and I came to Paris. It’s been 29 years already since I made that decision. Luckily, since the day I sold my first painting, I’ve met people who became fans of my art little by little and I have been able to feed myself. However, I have say, I haven’t completely separated myself from the world of bike racing. It’s been 10 years since I was chosen as a vice-president of Union Cycliste Internationale, and I’ve been part of the effort to hold the world championship in Japan as well.
If you are not familiar with Kato’s work you can check some of it out over on my Pinterest board.