Oiseau sur une fleur

 

In the 2010s, or maybe just a soupçon prior, the thing was to “put a bird on it.” Do you remember that? I do. I was wild for all of the twee, sweet, bird things from Anthropologie. If I could have afforded it, I would have birded up my entire wardrobe with their various collections. That was well over a decade ago, but it’s funny how things jump to the forefront of your mind, given the right conditions.

A few weeks ago, I came across the delicate, hauntingly introspective artworks of Kiyoshi Hasegawa. I first thought they were as if poet Pablo Neruda looked over his body of achingly melancholic works and thought, “hm, this is all wrong. It’s missing something. Let’s put a bird on it!”

 

Bird on Roots

 

Still life with Mexican dove

But from what I can see, Kiyoshi Hasegawa (French/Japanese, 1891–1980) wasn’t one for trends or fleeting fancies. This printmaker, who spent most of his life etching away in Paris ateliers, was far more concerned with whispers of soul and the quiet poetry of existence. Sure, birds flitted through his works – ethereal creatures, often solitary, perched on windowsills or etched against a darkened sky (or dressed in Parisienne finery!) But they weren’t mere decorations, these feathered friends. They were symbols of longing, memory, and the bittersweet beauty of impermanence.

Oiseau et Papillons

 

Parisienne Pigeon

His art, primarily wood engravings and mezzotints full of rich blacks and velvety textures, spoke in soft, nuanced tones. He found magic in the mundane – a forgotten teacup, a lone wildflower in a vase, a toy fox of knotted rope. Meticulously crafted with a lifetime of honed skill, each image resonated with a melancholy grace, as if capturing the echo of a half-remembered dream.

Hasegawa was an artist attuned to the subtlest frequencies of life, a soul who whispered stories of the enduring beauty found in the in-between spaces. His work spoke of solace in solitude, expressing the complexities of the human experience through seemingly simple scenes. He wasn’t about putting a bird on it; he was about etching an entire universe onto the soul of a single feather.

 

Time Still Life

 

Field flowers in a vase

 

Fleurs des champs dans un verre

 

Bouquet de fleurs des champs

 

Nature morte au gyroscope

 

The Fox and the Grape (from Fables of La Fontaine)

 

Graminées dans un verre

 

Coupe de fleurs des champs

 

Sympathy between Bird and Fish


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