New Painting: "Broken or Whole?"

The last painting I finished for my "A Vivid Paradox" show was this one, Broken or Whole.

"Broken or Whole" Mixed media & gold leaf on board | 20x30"


I had wanted to make a piece based on a certain strange Japanese festival that I had read about before... but I could not remember the name of the festival. I googled with the scanty bits of information I had in my memory, but found nothing. Alas!

But then one day, out of nowhere, I got a random email from someone I didn't know, telling me that he had written a blog post about the very festival for which I had been searching. How completely and utterly amazing! It was a sign, for sure.

Anyway, the festival is called "Hadaka Matsuri." Different towns have different variations, and basically all the men in town run through the streets in a wild, barely clothed mob to try to touch the "shin-otoko," or lucky/pure man. He has been chosen from amongst the people, and has purified himself for three days before the festival. If you can touch him, you can get rid of your bad luck and get good luck for the year, yaaaaaaay! However, shin-otoko isn't so lucky. He often gets trampled or severely injured because of the wildness of the crowd.

(Source: http://www.konomiya.or.jp)
(February 10, 2006 - Source: Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images News)
This is the photo of people touching Shin-Otoko that originally inspired me. (Source: Takemoto)
 So I thought, here is a paradox! The lucky man ends up being the unluckiest of all, and the originally luckless folk go home lucky/purified/healed and jolly. You can see the hands in my painting are inscribed with the Japanese words "mukizu" which literally means "no cuts" or "no injury." Shin-otoko bears the word "sai", which means "crushed." As the hands reach out and touch him, they are made whole.


I don't think there is any greater way to show pure love than to be willing to risk injury to yourself so that someone else (whom you don't even know) can go away happy and restored. Hmm, deep thinking. I love the symbolism in this festival, wild as it may be. What do you think?


 This piece is available to purchase, and comes framed (cradled wood frame) and ready to hang. Please contact DNA Galleries if you are interested!