Yearly self-portrait with noren. 2018. J. Harms. 29x39cm. Acrylic on red paper.
This year’s portrait was more difficult to paint than the previous years. I painted and discarded several before finally painting this one. Ten years ago, almost to the day, I left France to go to Japan, where I lived and worked for a year and a half.
It was a tough yet rewarding and meaningful experience. It was there that I found my artistic language among the many colors and lines of the cityscape of Nagasaki.
While living there, I got to witness traditional holidays, and seasonal events. I also visited craft shops, I began collecting art too, and sent home many things, like this noren, a detail of which I painted in the background. It now hangs in my bedroom.
And a Happy Birthday to Sayaka Takahashi, one of its citizen, English teacher extraordinaire, who, a couple years ago, while I was working in Nagasaki, found a painting spot for me near my appartment, and by that actively participated in helping me find my artistic voice. Domo arigato Sayaka chan !
Les Mimosas de Mesubenomori. 2013. 80×120 cm. Acrylic and oil pastel on paper.
In Nagasaki, I often went to Mesubenomori park. Around it bloom beautiful mimosa trees. I first began painting this picture in 2009 at the XXX Indies Art Club in Nagasaki. A small place where artists can rent a space to paint, meet other local artists and exhibit. I never could render the small coton like flowers of the mimosas, though. So I rolled up my picture and brought it back to France where it stayed in a corner for 4 years. A couple months ago I began using oil pastels. I like the rich texture of them. They’re wonderful to use. It didn’t take long before I made the connection between the softness, the rich yellow tone and the powdered flower. And Voilà !
Acrylic on paper – Framed 56×75 cm. (private collection)
… The town celebrates O-Kunchi. From my balcony I watch mothers all dressed-up walking towards the elementary school and children waiting for the dragon to come and dance for them, followed by the heavy portable shrine shaped like a boat that will soon roll by…
A solitary tree in Nagasaki 2009
Acrylic on paper – Framed 59,5×74 cm. (private collection)
I usually walked through the shopping arcade to go to work when it rained or simply to avoid the scorching sun…Two streets cross the arcade. A lonely tree stands at the far end of one of them…
Lantern Festival in Nagasaki 2009
Acrylic on paper. Framed – 49,5×75 cm. (private collection)
From café Foglio, just a minute away from my apartment… A large window overlooks the river…Through the green foliage, the glimpse of an eye belonging to the famous Spectacle Bridge. Orange lanterns hang, reminding me of the festival to come…Soon, it will be dark and hundreds of lanterns will light up.
At the foot of Spectacle Bridge 2010
Acrylic on paper – 33x41cm. (private collection)
The town disappears below the bridge. Children play, take pictures…The town is above their heads…
Walking to Mesubenomori park 2010
Acrylic on paper – 36,5×44,5cm. (private collection)
At the bottom of the hill is Ume Saito, the big mall. If I turn left I’ll end up walking along the China Sea. Another lantern festival…The weather is cool, the street buzzes with engines running…or waiting for the lights to turn green… I’m probably going to turn left, to stroll at Mesubenomori park overlooking the sea…My favorite place.
Ice cream lady 2010
Acrylic on paper – 23×25,5. (private collection)
Almost every day, on the other side of the Spectacle bridge, the Ice cream lady waits for tourists. Most often, young students in uniform eager to cross the oldest bridge of the country…
Brasserie Ito 2010
Acrylic on canvas – 33×40,2. (private collection)
…Walking down the streets to the shopping arcade, a piece of France reminding me of my country. I never walked up the stairs that led to M.Ito’s, nor could I read the complicated menu. M.Ito, I believe, would stand on the street in front of his restaurant, late at night. It seems he was always waiting for someone.
Second O-Kunchi 2010
Acrylic on canvas – 81×61 cm. (private collection)
My second O-Kunchi…Same street, same balcony. A boat crosses the street. The sun is bright. The boat disappears…The sound of drums.
Near Meganebashi 2010
Acrylic on canvas – 97×130 cm. (private collection)
In one of the many streets leading to Spectacle Bridge, modern buildings and older ones pile up. On the roof of the house on the left, a tree stands. Often gardens grow above the electric lines.
Late Kimono 2010
Acrylic on canvas – 40×65 cm. (private collection)
Late for her meeting…Most probably back from her tea ceremony class…Her friend waits patiently at the famous café down town. Another is looking for a place to sit. Mostly women come during the day.
Japanese Police car 2010
Acrylic on paper. (Private collection)
It was so easy to find inspiration in Japan. All I had to do was sit and watch. Which is the story behind this painting. A police car stops at a red light. I take a picture. I sip my coffee. I forget about the picture. A couple months later, I find it among the hundreds I took. I remember the day I was sipping my drink and looking out the window. That’s when I really start looking at its. I find it pretty. I think it looks like a super-hero.