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For maybe some 25 years I’ve been collecting zenga.

These are the paintings of Zen masters. They are of the haboku style, which is the most captivating, to my aesthetic, which is called “broken ink”. It’s about saying something in nothing. It’s about an empty handed gesture, that means everything. And no thing. And, in the tradition of Zen, every thing.

The paintings in the collection are produced somewhere between 50 and 200 years old; and in the meditative practice of painting these, the masters of the monastery, the zendo, these are lessons offered. They paint mostly in black and white, and the shades in between. But the real stroke is not the stroke, but what’s not there. The black drawn line is about the idea, the abstraction of the simplest notion — the not doing of the Zen practice; it’s about the incessant patience of release. The circle stroke draws the world in, and the universe with out. The circle is the ring of bone, the brush enlivened, the spirited circle, the enso.

This one just came out of hiding, in a book by Audrey Yoshiko Seo: Enso, Zen Circles of Enlightenment.
Weatherhill, London.

The painting is here:

Hoshino Taigen (Saishokan) • 1865 – 1945
Enter from here.

scroll_7-img_7791.jpg
Photograph by Deanna Carroll
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Speaking to practice, meditation, mind fullness…t’s interesting that the etymological reference of concentration is “with circle”.