Mixed Media Relief Sculpture
by Bob Matheny
This series of work attempts to explore Japanese food culture - what they like to eat and how they prepare and present it for eventual consumption. I would like to say my fascination, obsession and digestion with the aesthetics of their food (foo) presentation began in 1950 while serving in the U.S Air Force during the Korean War. However, at the time we were ordered not to eat Japanese food, especially vegetables, because the Japanese farmers were still fertilizing their ground with human waste. We called it "honey." It was transported from the source to the good earth in wooden buckets, called of course, "honey buckets." The Japanese farm landscape was dazzling and gorgeous in odor.
It was not until many moons later, on my second journey to Japan, that I saw the rising sun and started to really appreciate and respect Japanese culture.
About one-half of this work was completed in 2005, a result of a wonderful journey I made in 1999 to Kameoka, Kyoto, Takamatsu and Iya Valley (on the island of Shikoku), where I became fascinated with the aesthetics of Japanese food and its exquisite presentation. The experience was a splendid three week tour produced and directed by Liz and Mario Uribe, which was for me, a kind of 49th anniversary celebration of my first tour to Japan.
In the fall of 2005 I signed-up for another tour of the Kyoto area, again led by Liz and Mario, and completed the other half or so of the pieces in 2006.
Each piece represents a place setting of culinary delights and pleasures fit for the Emperor.
A number of the pieces were shown at Simayspace in San Diego in September and October of 2006 in a show titled "Fake Foosan and Wabi-sabi Haiku."