26 September - 25 October, 2009
Lars Bohman Gallery
Back to

Martin Wickström writes on 36:

Between 1826 and 1833 Katsushika Hokusai made a suite of classical woodcut, 36 images of the Views of Mount Fuji, of these The Great Wave off Kanagawa has become the most prominent. In each cut Fuji, pointing upwards by the horizon is incorporated. However, this is something one easily fails to notice. In the images representing ordinary scenes of life or the landscape it is almost by chance Fuji appears in the back ground. Although in other images the mountain completely dominates the cut.
During a visit in Japan in March 2008 we stopped for a couple of nights in a small mountain village in a nature reserve called Hakone. From the village by funicular we reached Owakudani and under good weather conditions the view of Mount Fuji is spectacular. It does truly present one of the most beautiful, yet one of the most disturbingly repeated images in the whole world: snow covering the symmetrical top of Fuji, against a blue sky, preferably with a branch of a cherry blossom in the foreground. We decided to visit Owakudani on the day before travelling to Kyoto. It was a cold, cloudy day and Fuji lay hidden under a blanket of clouds. We were cold and we waited. Even so, the clouds wouldn’t disappear. But as they tightly followed its contours we would imagine the well know shape of the mountain. It was a bit like experiencing a vague mirage of the desirable.
The following day we woke up to bright sun shine from a clear blue sky. This was the perfect day for viewing Fuji, but we had to move on, our tickets were already booked. The Japanese high speed train, Shinkansen, swished past the landscape towards Kyoto. Suddenly, stately and calm Fuji appeared afar passing trees, bridges and houses. It felt like she – I guess Fuji must be a she? – was irritatingly smiling at us.
I allowed for my camera to snap during the 20 minutes we saw the mountain. Of these photographs I later picked 36 to become the starting point of my series of 36 Views of Mount Fuji, which is a depiction of contemporary Japan as well as a celebration to Katsushika Hokusai.
At the same time, I regard this suite an image of life. We aspire for some things, run after certain big ones, fail, try yet again and we give up. Then, most often at times when we least expect it, we catch something at the corner of our eye.
Whilst working on the Fuji suite I also decided to make a painting incorporating a little piece of plasticized paper made by my Dad. As a young man he had carefully written down accurate notes of exposure values for various light and weather conditions. At a birthday he got new modern equipment and I received the old camera, with the book of instructions. It was my first camera. By chance I counted the lines written down by Dad – there were 36.

When my friend, the photographer visited my studio to view my paintings he pointed out an ordinary roll of film contains 36 images.