When you hear the title The Sower, are you reminded of Millet’s painting of that name, or one of the many Van Gogh works that share the same title? Or do you think of a picture by a different artist? Although you might not have actually seen the painting, The Sower is a very well-known title.
When asked why he chose The Sower, a subject addressed by many artists, as the title of this exhibition, Shigeru Hasegawa replied, “I just wanted to quote a painting that everybody knew very well.” It might well have been something else, like Sunflowers or The Scream, but since Hasegawa lived in Holland for a long time and painted lots of flowers and fruits, he thought The Sower was not totally unrelated.
“It’s not as if I want to express a certain thing with my paintings, or that there was a beautiful landscape or diva that I wanted to paint. I just want to paint pictures. To make my pictures, I have long taken an experimental approach in which I extract, dismantle, and reassemble motifs used in masterpieces from every age and region that I remembered being emotionally affected by, and then apply my own method of painting. For example, if I wanted to paint vegetables, I create a link to Arcimboldo or Jakuchu. If I wanted to paint curtains, I could do the same with Dutch interior paintings, or if wanted to paint a chair, I could create a link to Van Gogh. Except when I paint these things, a fish is not a fish, and an apple is not an apple. If might sound like some kind of Zen koan, but everything is just there because I wanted to paint a picture.”
As the novel coronavirus began to rage, and the world fell silent and became shrouded in despair, I imagined that like a sower, every artist was moving their brush while imagining a day when people might have a chance to see the pictures they were making. The pleasure of imagining the movement of a brush, listening closely to a sound, and coming face to face with a painting is akin to the Barbizon painters’ attempts to convey the “pleasures of life” by depicting the everyday activities of farmers. In the present age, however, this is an “ordinary miracle.” For me, it is important to remember that the pleasure of running a gallery is to enable as many people as possible to experience this kind of ordinary miracle.