Dennis Potter

DENNIS POTTERMay 2013For the past ten years I have constructed painted paper kimonos based on a model from traditionalJapanese Buddhism. This kimono, or hakui, is a simple garment worn by all Buddhist pilgrims whocircumambulate the island of Shikoku in Japan. This garment works as a metaphor for experience andmemory because it is inscribed with both printed seals and brush painted blessings and sutra, or poemswritten by monks that the pilgrim visits wearing the kimono. Thus, it is a skin of the pilgrim'sexperience that is transformed by art and by the experience itself. Walking the long and (historically)treacherous path the kimono becomes worn, stained, rain washed, and layered/faded with the art worksdescribing the experience, attesting to the pilgrimage. My work has been reformed and focused by thisdiscovery and it provides me with a new, spiritual and purposeful context.My kimonos are a kind ofmulticultural hybrid or "quote" of the Asian Hakui and a more painterly, Western inflected process thatis my own. I am a mature artist with over 40 years of painting experience and feel newly freed by using the Hakuimodel. It provides me with a purpose for my own work, one that implies memory and loss,functionality, and a context that although borrowed and implausible, informs my work withsignificance in the light of the pilgrim experience. I have been living in Taiwan with my Taiwanesepartner who lost his US visa as a result of 9/11 and teaching HS Art in International schools for overtwo years now. Our move to Taiwan is a pilgrimage of my own. I find that my own pilgrimage in Asiaand my experience here re-constructs the images and context of the kimonos ... the actuality of living inAsia is so different from the imaginary. This body of work includes paper reconstructions of kimono, priest robes (Kesa) and the paintings,prints, and drawings that eventually become Kimonos. Kesa are made by wealthy parishioners andgiven to monks and priests who are not allowed to own luxury goods, so the rich fabrics of the kesahave been cut, pieced like quilts, and remade as non-luxury, scrap, recycling. This traditional practiceof remaking art in Asia is ancient, and suggests many post-modern appropriation practices incontemporary Art from the West. Most Japanese Kesa are gold embroidered and sumptous though someare plain, mine are paper and cloth and brush-painted and processed as a Western painting would be.My eventual goal is to make a show that resembles the curio cabinets of the 19th Century explorers, acollection of these objects as signs of a hybrid faux-culture that reflects my actual experience viaappropriated forms and quirky personal processes, as does my own pilgrimage in Asia now.