Friday, October 18, 2013

Chizuko Yoshida's Butterflies

There are more from this artist's series, but here are six that I thought went well together. The butterflies are just about gone, along with the summer, and so I'm feeling a bit sentimental. This always happens when I see more things dying than blooming every time I step outside. The symbolic meaning of butterflies tends to be connected to metamorphosis, but the most profound symbolism they possess for me is as a symbol of life itself, in that they are a delicate, transient, and exquisitely beautiful creature. Whenever I see one I always feel I'm not getting enough. They move to quickly to examine for very long. Of course we can photograph or kill and preserve them for study, but of course that's not the same if what one is after is an aesthetic experience with another living being.

I love looking at these prints as a set of variations on a theme. In these thick clutters of fluttering life, rarely do any individuals stand out. Even when individuals do stand out (see the larger pair in the fourth print down or the largest blue and black one in the fifth print down) they are still integrated with the rest of their community. I look at these and I feel closer to the rest of humanity. I feel both strength and anonymity found in large numbers. It is a sort of quiet loudness.

From these images I also feel the emphasis on seasonal change through the soft gradations of color and varied arrangements. The first image feels like the rosy blossoms of early spring pushing their way up as the warm heat of the sun radiates from above. The second image points me to the most grey of foggy days. In the third image I feel blown back by an explosion of life as spring finds its stride.

In the fourth image I feel the heat of summer, the sweat of lovers in bed without the benefit of air conditioning. In the fifth image I feel the butterflies themselves are fading away as autumn, that harbinger of death, strolls in. The last image below feels like a pile of debris in the cool winter, coming alive. I am reminded of the character Marjory the Trash Heap from Fraggle Rock, and her endless offers of sage advice to those in a predicament: Bring me your troubles, bring me your pain, bring me your woe. Somehow butterflies ease the suffering.

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