The Comfort of Impermanence

There is in Japanese aesthetics a concept of beauty that is expressed by the transience and impermanence of man’s existence. It is called wabi-sabi. The concept asks that we see beauty as something marred by the ‘imperfect, impermanent, and the incomplete.” It bears
Buddhism’s three marks of existence: impermanence, suffering, emptiness or absence of self-nature.

How do we recognize wabi-sabi in natural or man- made objects? When you chance upon it, you will notice its “asymmetry, roughness, simplicity, economy, and intimacy.” The experience is an affective moment, as if you experience a one-ness with the piece, inviting you to enter the work. These are the same quiet qualities that the viewer will sense – for they are seen and felt by more than the
eyes, but rather the spirit – in the recent works of Allain Hablo in his 9 th solo exhibition “The Comfort of Impermanence.” Hablo’s works seem not to have been built an artist’s hands, but simply as if they had emerged over unobserved time like the chipping of a tree bark, or the crumbling of a stone wall. They are at once intimate but distant, as if belonging to another dimension, beyond
light and perspective, form and substance.

A Hablo painting does not solicit any anguished analysis or pretentious interpretation. It needs to be left alone. A Hablo painting is like the Japanese haiku: it just is.


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