The Art of Wabi-sabi

7 05 2012

Relax.  Look.  Now what do you see?

I’m taking a break from my Miksang photos to remind you of (or introduce you to) the art of Wabi-sabi. You might find some similarities here.

Wabi-sabi is a Japanese aesthetic that honours the beauty of things imperfect, impermanent and incomplete. It is quite a contrast from the “Western” principles of beauty that often centre around perfection, flawlessness, symmetry and clarity. Wabi-sabi is not purely a japanese version of ‘modernist’ or ‘minimalist’ art, it is a visual and intuitive appreciation of a transient beauty in the physical world. Indeed much of wabi-sabi beauty can be found in decay or decline which brings us to a melancholy contemplation on the seasons of life. Life is transient which makes it all the more precious. In that sense, wabi-sabi lets you find beauty in the ragged teddy bear and that soft and fraying jumper. You can let it be (or can you?). It is perfect in its imperfection.

There is a great introduction to the principles of wabi-sabi at The Hermitary, which outlines the categories of Type, Form, Texture, Beauty, Color, Simplicity, Space, Balance and Sobriety. Fellow blogger “Raw Earth Living” has an interesting post on wabi-sabi if you’d like some history.

For now, here are some of my wabi-sabi shots. See what they stir in you as you view them. Can you find beauty? Can you let them be? Do they jar you? unsettle you? intrigue you? inspire you? bore you? annoy you? Do you long to clean or fix them up?  Let your viewing tell you something. Enjoy.

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For more contemplative photography – check out my Page of Miksang posts.




11 responses

7 05 2012
Dezra Despain

Oh thank you so much for giving me the word that describes the photographs I take that make my heart sing! I appreciate Miksang but I practice Wabi-sabi.

7 05 2012

Fantastic! It’s great when that happens!

7 05 2012

now i think i am the opposite, the wabi-sabi makes me laugh but i practice miksang ….love the blue one …it sure looks like a little dog following a human …. i wonder what others see?

8 05 2012

I shot the blue in a laneway in Perth during a lunchtime walk. My colleague still refers to this as ‘the baby elephant’. 🙂

8 05 2012
Lynne Ayers

I really liked the rowing boat and the one with the dripping paint is a really good composition.

8 05 2012

Thanks Lyn, the rowing boat is in the grounds of Western Australia’s Government House which is all perfectly manicured (other than the boat). The dripping paint is one of my faves!

8 05 2012

Love the minimalist aesthetic! Particularly the yellow splash of paint on the blue and the two orange and red indicators/lights (?)

8 05 2012

Hi Madhu! It’s different isn’t it? The lights are on the front of an abandoned passenger train carriage. I liked the shape of them.

11 05 2012

Reblogged this on Bowl of Miso.

13 05 2012

Delightful perspective, makes us stop striving for perfection as see beauty in life as it is. Your readers are left enlightened, their eyes widened, their minds opened. Thanks for the fine lesson.

18 05 2012

Very cool idea. I did this before I knew what it was called but it is good to know. Great post!

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