Ricardo Pau-Llosa: ‘Hiroshige, Kanagawa’

Hiroshige, Kanagawa
third station in 53 Stations of the Tōkaidō, 1831–34

Abstraction is the eye’s short-hand for suspension,
the holding off that other details may come
into the mind. But it is not an absolute,
as our moderns think when they execute
their spill, slice, and rub. At random
they proudly shove reference into oblivion.

Hiroshige grasped that the abstract forms of land
are clearly different from those of the sea, even
if the object in question is man-made.
A sail, a hull, take on geometry and shade
in ways unknown to field, in roofs unseen,
for it is the eye that paints and not the hand.

The grammars of city, ocean, sky and streams
train the mind in the freedom of their schemes.

Ricardo Pau-Llosa

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