Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Featured Book - Japan 365

Japan 365
J. Muzacz

JAPAN 365 is the Essential art book of Japan. An excellent hand-drawn retrospective and an amazing feat of sustained creativity. Entirely bilingual in English and Japanese. Artist and English teacher J Muzacz set out on a journey with some sketchbooks and ordinary ball pens. A test of artistic endurance, J drew an A4 (8.5in. x 11in.) piece for everyday of 2011 while living, working and traveling in Japan—A Drawing-A-Day Project for 365 days. Delving into history books for classic traditional imagery and embarking on broken bilingual conversations with locals about hidden shrines, temples and festivals, helping harvest rice, eating strange food, dissecting fashion and more, J has unearthed some real gems that many Japanese people do not even know about. Working from life and with stills captured by some of Japan’s finest photographers, depicting Hokkaido in the arctic north to Okinawa in the tropical south and everywhere in between, J has captured history, culture and current events in stark and striking black and white, reminiscent of Japan’s archetypal art style—the Hanga woodblock print. Images range from beautiful landscapes to scenes of unsettling tsunami aftermath, women wearing kimono to unfinished old faces-- always evocative and educational, insightful explanations or anecdotes on every page, laid out clearly in both English and Japanese. Muzacz re-establishes artwork as a viable means to record a unique folk history while still communicating universal human tendencies and timeless natural beauty. Let us not forget that visual art is a valuable story-telling medium which transcends language barriers. Japan 365 is a must-have for aspiring artists or architects, Japan-o-philes of any kind, Asian art aficionados, anyone interested in Japanese language, history and culture, or simply someone in need of a little daily creative inspiration. Japan 365 is a useful Art/Reference volume, cultural study, coffee table book and more. You definitely want to add this one-of-a-kind book to your collection.

About the Author

J Muzacz has been a cook, dishwasher, valet parking attendant, painter, street artist, vegetarian dumpster diver, muralist, sculptor, gardener, English teacher, art teacher, writer, peacemaker and author. A trained sociologist (University of Texas), learning new cultures through experience and then turning around to educate others about all the beautiful people and places using hand-drawn images that have the power to bridge language barriers and cultivate a universal oneness between us all, J has a simple dream: “Pedal our precious planet Earth and draw pictures about it.”

Although humbly presented as a "drawing-a-day" project, Japan 365 keeps you engaged on a number of fronts. The drawings themselves are the first portal into Muzacz's Japan. The style ranges from playful to reflective, from finely wrought figures set in dense swirling landscapes to half-fashioned images shooting into empty space. When in the Japanese Tea Garden we see the architectural lines bending into and losing themselves in the natural lines of the foliage, we little suspect that this pattern will reassert itself in the tsunami sketches, where nature devours the stark, straight lines of the man-made universe. We expect human emotion in the human figures, huddled or laughing or careworn, but also the animals and insects, drawn with Audubon-like naturalism, and the gods, ferocious or mischievous, all remain drenched in human emotion or human meaning.

Connect with the author

A NEW book in the works now, Life Is Sweet: The Story of a Sugarcane Field. Campaign page here:


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