Satomi Sakuma

佐久間 里美



ミュージアムショップで『○』『△』『□』が描かれたポストカードを見つけ手に取ると、裏面には『○△□ 仙厓 The Universe (1750-1837) 』と書かれていた。







In 2006 I visited Idemitsu Museum of Arts to see an exhibition of the picture scroll.
When I dropped by the museum shop, I found an postcard with an drawing of “○” “△” “□”, which reads “○△□, Sengai, The Universe (1750-1837)” on the reverse.

I, who had ever majored in oil painting, was greatly surprised to know that there had been such an artwork in Japan well before Kandinsky and Mondrian created abstract paintings, and then immediately bought the postcard forgetting the exhibition itself completely.
This was my encounter with Sengai.

His works embrace various gimmicks to invite viewers into free ground as well as a kind of reading riddles.
This “○△□” is the most difficult riddle among them.

In Zenga (Zen drawing) a drawing is usually accompanied by some texts to explain it, which is called as ‘San’.
However “○△□” doesn’t have it and so viewers are forced to fumble their way to grasp its meaning.
There are hardly any clues in Sengai’s other works and its surroundings.

○ may mean infinity, △ could be the beginning of all kinds of shapes, and □ is double triangles and ‘double’ may represent the universe. Or else it just means‘Oden’ (one of Japanese winter dishes)?
I feel like being caught in the trap of Sengai in any interpretation.

Only open world spreads there and it has us jump straight into the deepness of itself without speculation on what are drawn or observation of form and shape.

First, move outside your recognition.
It is necessary to begin to walk toward inscrutable.