Thursday, April 29, 2010

Glorious Imperfection

Wabi-sabi is a concept that you’ve probably encountered in some context, even if it wasn’t identified with its cool Japanese name. It’s the ancient Japanese art of seeing beauty in the imperfect, impermanent, rustic and primitive.

Wabi now connotes rustic simplicity, freshness or quietness, and can be applied to both natural and human-made objects, or understated elegance. It can also refer to quirks and anomalies arising from the process of construction, which add uniqueness and elegance to the object. Sabi is beauty or serenity that comes with age, when the life of the object and its impermanence are evidenced in its patina and wear, or in any visible repairs. (thanks wikipedia)

When I first became aware of wabi-sabi, I thought it summarized perfectly my fondness for “destructed” surfaces. Then I started seeing wabi-sabi mentioned a lot, mostly in the context of artwork. You know how it happens—once you’ve noticed something you see it everywhere! Anyone else fascinated by imperfection and character? I'd love to hear about it if you are.


  1. me too deborah, i just heard about wabi sabi this year and suddenly i see it everywhere. of course when you start talking about imperfection i also think of the word Dionysian as opposed to Apollonian.
    to me perfection or the idea or trying to attain perfection almost always bores me. its the missing or crooked tooth on an otherwise 'beautiful' person that most attracts me. its the scratches and the dinks and dents. all that stuff is the character that calls out to me.

  2. You're right, perfection is boring and sterile. And mechanical. Dionysian vs. Apollonian....hmmmmm, sounds like good food for thought. Maybe that's why sculpture has just started to appeal to me in the past couple of years, because now I get that it's more interesting if it's quirky. and not perfect.