Satsuki Shibuya’s “Zuihitsu: Peaceful” and “Zuihitsu: Fiery”
In April 2022, we published the 随筆 | Zuihitsu notebook, which features twenty-one writers sharing interpretations of the Japanese genre. The notebook was created in collaboration with the artist, poet, and spiritual thinker Satsuki Shibuya. After reading the collection of pieces we selected, Shibuya created two original paintings, “Zuihitsu: Fiery” (above) and “Zuihitsu: Peaceful” (below). Every piece in the notebook is paired with a frame from one of the paintings.
We were eager to feature Shibuya’s work as part of the notebook. Zuihitsu is frequently translated from the Japanese as “following the brush,” and the brush stroke feels central to Shibuya’s practice. In many of her paintings, one can trace how the brush moved across the paper at different speeds and angles. Her delicately calibrated use of color, along with her compositions that feel both spontaneous and balanced, feels akin to the zuihitsu’s interplay between randomness and order.
Shibuya answered a few questions about her work for this collaboration:
What was your process for creating these original paintings?
After receiving the initial briefing for the project, all information was meditated upon and synthesized into a direction for the project. Originally, the plan was to create a single painting, but while building upon the original Zuihitsu vision, each poem shared continued to expand the energies being channeled, ultimately splitting the painting into two—one of serene peace and the other of fiery, energetic life-force.
The word zuihitsu is often translated as “following the brush.” When you pick up a brush, what do you feel you are following or being guided by?
It feels as though I am a vessel allowing energies, messages, and visuals to come through; it is a way of bringing into existence something beyond the physical realm. The more I think and try to interfere, the stiffer a painting becomes, which I believe is showing “ga” (我, in English, translates to “ego”). If I let go, breathe, and trust, something unexpected happens, and I find myself in awe of the process each time.
What materials did you use for the pieces, and why did you select those mediums?
Materials used for the paintings include watercolor, gouache, colored pencils, and crayons, on paper. As much as I love each for its texture, pigment, and character, I am interested in not so much what is used, but how each, combined, conveys an overall message.
Satsuki Shibuya is an artist, poet, and spiritual thinker whose work represents her way of translating the energy of the unseen, spiritual world into something more tangible in the real world. Born and raised in the constant activity of Los Angeles, California, her work blends the powers of art and spirituality, and it is this combination that allows her to connect deeply with others, more accurately define her art, form her spiritual practice, and better understand her identity as an individual.
Regardless of how her work takes shape, Satsuki knows the purpose is not in the making or the medium. Rather, she hopes that her art may serve as the catalyst that allows others to discover a deeper purpose for themselves by responding to this energy with sensations all their own.