Robert Wallace








Parts 1 - 10 in a series of paintings with an as yet undefined end.







This is Part 7 in the series of short films documenting the (four)est art project in the mountains of northern Kyoto (Japan).


September 2019









notes and impressions

part 7 (September 22 & 23, 2019)


It's the green of the forest that always impresses, a more vibrant green than the city vegetation, as if it comes from a different source, photosynthesis in its purest form.






久多 | Kuta


Kuta is unseasonably warm.  A light rain falls.  The leaches continue to show a preference for American blood.  The painting has adopted a new cockeyed angle.  Perhaps the wind had a hand in this.  The colors have begun to dull.  It is stained with rain.  It looks like something left outdoors - weathered.  Finally!






亀岡 | Kameoka


Kameoka spider festival.  Webs everywhere.  One year after the typhoon, the forest floor begins.  The painting seems to have been accepted by the forest.  It's no longer a gaijin.  Colors a deeper hue.






美山 | Miyama


The kimono fabric band across the bottom has peeled off.  Curious deer chewing?  A yellow spider has made the painting her home.  She looks good on the green background.






京北 | Keihoku


A rare Kingfisher.  The sakura beginning to turn.  It's a jungle, ferns waist-high.  The path up the hill has disappeared.  No significant change to the painting.  I'm guessing heavy rain continually wipes it clean.







1.   decamp

2.   a wellspring

3.   I’m not on board

4.   the last year on Earth

5.   push

6.   feeling like an artist

7.   in season

8.   Painter Man

9.   a different head

10.  unreasonably cheerful

11.  the sakura is

12.  a dreamer and a fool

13.  first reel

14.  20 dB

15.  the fourth wall

16.  She was a Wednesday girl

17.  because the sea goes forever

18.  Look out the window

19.  a festival of crows

20.  lost in thought

21.  Don’t get too comfortable

22.  five years of matches

23.  Japanese clouds

24.  susceptible to sentimentality

25.  re-stolen

26.  4½ tatami

27.  I’m getting closer

28.  a savage heat

29.  drip-dry

30.  It’s all there

31.  my salvation

32.  something that never was

33.  degrees











tree support






This is Part 6 in the series of short films documenting the (four)est art project in the mountains of northern Kyoto (Japan).


June 2019









notes and impressions

part 6 (June 30 & July 2, 2019)






亀岡 | Kameoka


Kameoka is wet. Wet like a bog, a place that never sees the sunlight. But it is also green, a vivid, glowing green. The rain begins falling as soon as we arrive. There are still some bright reds and yellows on this painting, but more and more it is blending into the surroundings. If one painting will disappear completely, it is this one.






京北 | Keihoku


Beautiful low clouds cling to the mountains in Keihoku. “Japanese clouds” I like to call them. Mystery is lent. Here too the rain begins to fall upon our arrival. I’m not sure if there is any real change to this painting, just an ever-shifting cover of leaves and dirt. The gods of this rock have it in their embrace and protect it from any real damage.






美山 | Miyama


The rain tapers off in Miyama. This painting looks best in June when the hillside is covered in ferns. It almost fits in. The band of kimono fabric is beginning to peel off. The first significant change.






久多 | Kuta 


The hotaru bukuro (bellflower) have returned to Kuta, rising up above the flush of ferns. Number three (三) always seems to look the same. Some of the collaged paper appears to be wrinkling – slightly. Maybe the white is not quite so white. Maybe.





Studio Notes

"Working hard" is an expression I don't really care for.  The opposite - "hardly working" - is equally bad.  But I have been clocking a lot of hours recently on this series.  It won't soon be finished.  So I keep at it.  But then, there is no "finished".  It is continuous, one piece growing into the next, like things in a garden that suddenly appear, connected to, but separate from that which was planted.  It's the going that interests me.  Where is it going?


Studio Notes

Sometimes painting is so strange and wonderful it makes me a little sick.  When a painting just goes offf in a direction you weren't expecting.  You're not sure if it is good or bad, but it's exciting.  It's taken you to somewhere new.  You're a little nervous.  Your shoulders tense, your stomach is full of mad butterflies.

I need a drink.


Studio Notes

A painting, if it's good, should take you on a ride.  There is no map for the artist.  You must go and go, letting the painting lead you.  You will know when it's done.  It is not a flight, with the destination predetermined.  If I travel 9,143km I will arrive in Los Angeles.  No!  There is no destination for a painting.  You must avoid trying to get anywhere.  It is folly.

That is why I believe in abstract painting.  Pure abstraction.  It is the most honest art.  There is no leading or manipulation.  All the conventional methods of communication are removed, broken down.  It is a sort of primal, visceral language, if it is anything at all.  Where nothing and something have equal value.  There is nothing clever about abstraction.  It succeeds or fails because of heart, not erudition.  The connection is natural, organic.


Studio Notes

I've begun a new painting whose scale is well beyond the parameters of my tiny studio.  It is perhaps a foolish undertaking, but painting is not a reasonable activity.  I've no idea what I'm doing or where this is going.  That's okay.  Painting should be a little bewildering.  If it's not, there's no point doing it.






This is Part 5 in the series of short films documenting the (four)est art project in the mountains of northern Kyoto (Japan).


March 2019









notes and impressions

part 5 (March 24 & 25, 2019)


Hide and seek sunshine, a brief hailstorm, sakura peaking out, rooftop snow melting. The battle between winter and spring. A certain tension.




 No. 4 Kameoka


亀岡 | Kameoka


Number four (四) in Kameoka has slid from its stone pedestal. Strange. It survived Typhoon 21 back in September, hadn’t moved an inch. Now it is living with the bugs in the leaves and twigs. It is beginning to suffer a bit. Darkening. The kimono fabric is threadbare in places, a slow disappearance. Insects?




No. 1 Miyama 


美山 | Miyama


Number one (一) in Miyama is clean. Perhaps it’s the steepness of the mountain. Leaves, twigs, dirt, can’t collect; they just drift right past, carried on down the mountain. Animal droppings suggest some nocturnal interest by deer.




No. 2 Keihoku 


京北 | Keihoku 


The narrow path along the bank of the little stream in Keihoku is muddy and a little treacherous. The painting is covered in the usual dirt and debris. It’s hard to tell if this is real, permanent change, or something a feather duster might easily remove. It does seem sort of superficial, a kind of conspicuous dress-up for the visiting artist.




No. 3 Kuta

久多 | Kuta 


It’s chilly in Kuta, spring clearly napping here. The white of number three (三) is finally, maybe showing some weathering. Close inspection reveals some slight discoloration, a subtle splotchiness, fading. Then again, that may be how it started.





Studio Notes

I think I say this often: a strange painting.  I never know where they come from, which, I suppose, is why I keep painting.  That discovery.  Pulling things out from deep inside.  That journey without destination.  Just go and see where you end up.


Studio Notes

When you ask questions and there is no real reply, just low-frequency murmurs, it is troubling.  Sometimes a painting has nothing to say.  You can play the tough guy and force it to speak.  Or you can wait.  With either approach there's no way to know if it has anything to say.  It could just be a bad painting.


Studio Notes

It's still difficult for me to accept that a painting can be complete, or near complete, in a few days.  In my Brooklyn studio paintings were something labored over for weeks and months.  A painter must labor.  It shows his or her sincerity.  I am confused by paintings that come together too easily.  I don't trust them.




Uji River (宇治川)


exterior interior


Sanjo Ohashi (三条大橋)


Gozen-dori (Saiin)





1.  The pursuit of beauty

2.  Just passing through

3.  devolution

4.  night creatures

5.  buttons, switches, levers

6.  umbrella skeletons

7.  gestation

8.  new cotton

9.  a stopped watch

10. in constant becoming

11. Picasso couldn't do this

12. Why, why, why?

13. cheated and defeated

14. I'm probably in love

15. rain birds

16. conversations with myself

17. I live on another planet

18. years and years

19a. Thinking of New York

19b. New York doesn't exist

20. one of these days

21. handsome devil

22. an aesthete

23. 心

24. listening to the music

25. "becoming and extinction"

26. for posterity

27. a sort of disguise

28. il est mort

29. a million love songs

30. I'm alive

31. the earth's eight corners

32. biding time

33. degrees

All content © 2011 by Robert Wallace
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