In Praise of Shadows

Here in the West we often favor brilliant colors, hyperrealism, and a superabundance of light. Dazzle! Clarity! Vision!

But in the East, in Japan, there are also alternate aesthetic values. This quote from the novelist Junichiro Tanizaki presents a traditional Japanese point of view:

” Find beauty not only in the thing itself, but in the pattern of the shadows, the light and dark which that thing provides.”

If you look for it, you begin to find it:

In the Greenhouse

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16 Responses to In Praise of Shadows

  1. barb19 says:

    Most definitely – there is beauty in the shadows too!


  2. Pauline says:

    That’s a beautiful illustration to your point. There are so many ways of seeing things. It’s the patterns we look for, I’m told; it’s how we make sense of our world. We don’t always see the same thing, though. My brother, for instance, doesn’t look at the shape of clouds but at the spaces in between. He sees a different sky than I do.


    • Touch2Touch says:

      I have this vague idea that people who see primarily negative space are using the “artist’s brain.” But you definitely have an artist’s brain, so maybe seeing negative or positive space is less significant than I’d thought.


  3. The Shadows are more important than we may think…… we reference Plato‘s “Allegory of the Cave” from The Republic, Book VII. Never discount the magic that lives in the shadow, it could perhaps be reality.


  4. Beyond the shadow tracing art I do with my kids, I rarely give more thought to lingering shadows. You have opened my eyes and reminded me to look around and pay more attention to these fading treasures.


  5. purringly says:

    Another, beautiful post! I had never paid much attention to shadows until I got the camera. I look at shadows differently now. A friend in the photo group took a picture of a simple guard rail, and the way the shadows fell, it turned out awesome!


    • Touch2Touch says:

      In a way it’s the same point we’ve been discussing from the post on Boundless Joy, that people/things/photos can express more than the same old same old. Shadows are a new and different expression, the alter ego of the light!


  6. Patti Kuche says:

    A beautiful photo Judith, your words reminding me there are no shadows in the dark. They come only with light.


  7. Madhu says:

    The shadows in your lovely photo tell me its a sunny day 🙂


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