Robert Wallace










This is Part 15 in the series of short films documenting the (four)est art project in the mountains of northern Kyoto (Japan).


October 2021









notes and impressions

part 15 (October 15 & 21, 2021)


Maybe it is the angle of the autumn sun...the light and shadows are gorgeous.
Too early / too warm for autumn foliage (紅葉).




four Kameoka


亀岡 | Kameoka


The morning light is strong through the trees. Sunny day, dark forest.

Splashes of red remain, but it is no longer a red painting. Black and brown, the color of decay. The supports – what’s left of them – have fallen off. The face is warping. Bent plywood.




one Miyama


美山 | Miyama


Miyama is the forest that doesn’t change. Ferns come and go with the seasons – that’s about it. A pleasant breeze moves the forest.

The painting, again, appears unchanged. I wonder if there isn’t some kind of forest housekeeper who comes to clean and care for the painting. The hornet’s nest has been abandoned.




two Keihoku


京北 | Keihoku


The forest has been completely rearranged, not by a typhoon, but by the chainsaws of Kyoto City. Forest maintenance. Giant logs stacked everywhere. It’s not the same forest, decidedly less photogenic. Strange and somehow sad. It does afford new views though.

Like Kameoka, the termite feast has resulted in supports that have fallen away. I can only guess it is rain dripping from the rock that prevents this painting from being buried completely by earth.




three Kuta


久多 | Kuta


Kuta is cold and wet, a different world from the other locations.

I’m surprised to see the painting still hanging. How?! It’s taken on a strange geometric form with the face of the painting angled one way, and the supports another. A battle between horizontal and vertical. Of the four paintings this one is the closest to what I expected from years of forest living.











Kyoto City Hall hoarding


Sanjo-dori Be_f Shop


potted plants







Winsor & Newton Winton Hog Brush bright no. 16 (circa 1989 and 2021)


In 1989 (1990?) when I finally made up my mind to study art my first painting instructor explained the brushes we would need for the class. She warned us: paintbrushes are expensive. But don’t buy cheap ones, she advised. If you invest in good quality brushes they will last forever. She was right. After 30-some years I finally replaced my Winsor & Newton Winton hog-hair bright number 16 brush I bought for that class so long ago. If this new brush lasts as long as the previous one I should be dead before it needs replacing.









Studio Notes

Lesson learned: don't compare an unfinished painting to a finished one.


Studio Notes

I wonder if painting is like surfing, always searching for the perfect wave, the perfect ride.  A surfer never stops surfing.


Studio Notes

I look at the painting I completed 2 days ago.  It's good, really good.  I look at the painting I'm working on now.  It's terrible, a bloody mess.  It's like two different artists, a horrible amateur trying to copy a master.  How is this possible?  What changed in 48 hours?


Studio Notes

I don't know where anything comes from.  Don't ask me.

Conversations with myself.






This is Part 14 in the series of short films documenting the (four)est art project in the mountains of northern Kyoto (Japan).


June 2021








notes and impressions

part 14 (June 24, 2021)


Lovely weather - warm, breezy, sun and clouds getting on just fine.  Rice paddy green.





亀岡 | Kameoka


I'm trying to remember what this forest looked like 4 years ago.  It is green, but not the greenest I've seen.  The stream trickles down as always.

The painting is in bad condition.  It might pass for garbage.  Something for a dump, not an art gallery.  Termites have finished the supports.  I suppose the acrylic paint has prevented them from attacking the face of the painting.  Well, at least for now.





美山 | Miyama


A cool breeze.  Ferns dance.

A hornet has built a nest on the reverse of the painting.  Surface cracks as before.  But overall the condition is fair.  La Résistance.





京北 | Keihoku


Kawaguchi-san lends us a scythe to cut through the undergrowth leading up the hill.  A deer scampers away.

The painting seems to be blending into the earth.  Rising soil.  Crumbling supports.  The termite fiesta continues.





久多 | Kuta


A sudden downpour.  Wait.  Wait.  Wait.  The sun breaks through and briefly a gorgeous display, rain illuminated by the sun, silver streaks through the forest canapy.  Some kind of two-minute heaven.  A natural spotlight falls on the painting.  Thunder rumbles and the hotaru bukuro weep in the rain.

The painting is hanging on - just.







1.   dreaming dreams

2.   short-changed

3.   thoughtless destruction

4.   There aren’t any movie cameras

5.   when we were young

6.   He’s a (goddamn) good egg

7.   wake up dead one day

8.   feeling combative

9.   tweed

10.  “cannon-balling”

11.  gathering strength

12.  ether sound

13.  world-weary

14.  ne’er-do-well

15.  That was yesterday

16.  It sounded like one of those nights

17.  You never know

18.  evanescence

19.  so far

20.  highfalutin

21.  Sometimes everything really is okay

22.  The last gasp of a candle

23.  Gotta keep tryin’

24.  vindication

25.  もったいない

26.  It wears me out

27.  everything about it

28.  Vivre sa vie

29.  Library of Loss

30.  Are you in?

31.  his next move

32.  that’s the that’s the

33.  degrees




Kyoto wholesale food market


Kyoto rooftops


Eizan Railway




Studio Notes

Painting is a way to preserve and discard memories.  Everything goes in, nothing is sacred.  I know what it is and I know when and where.  Much of gets buried.  Some of it rises, vague and meaningless.  X-rays and archeology might find a plot.  Burroughs.


Studio Notes

It's always strange coming off a long stretch of inactivity.  Like getting reacquainted with a lover after being away for a long time.  You know what to do, but you don't know what to do.  It's best just to begin.  Don't think too much.

It's good because there is a clear break from what you were doing before.  That dance is over.  New song.  New partner.


Studio Notes

This one is not going to let me off easy.  I look at it; I don't like it.  I look again; I like it.  Weeks of adding and subtracting.  Each time I ask, "Well?"  No answer.  We stare at each other.






This is Part 13 in the series of short films documenting the (four)est art project in the mountains of northern Kyoto (Japan).


March 2021








notes and impressions

part 13 (March 28 & 29, 2021)


The final visits have begun. Next year the project is complete.





亀岡 | Kameoka


The forest is dark and wet - as usual. A slight drizzle. Camelias litter the forest floor, splashes of pink against the dark brown-black leaves. The kimono fabric, what is left of it, is peeling, like old wallpaper. Leaves and twigs collect on the would-be shelf. A move beyond the 2-dimensional plane.





美山 | Miyama


The forest feels dry, despite the recent rain. The rich , earthy smell is absent.

The cracks in the painting surface have grown, like old paint on a bedroom wall, like my old New York apartment. The expanding and contracting – summer, winter, summer, winter…





京北 | Keihoku


A light rain begins to fall just as we arrive. The mitsumata have made their annual appearance. Suspended bursts of pale yellow.

The supports are beginning to crumble, the work of termites. The dirt has accumulated in this little mountain crease. The dark edge hidden by the rock – it’s impossible to know the condition.





久多 | Kuta


いい 天気! The sun, bright, warm. The ume trees here a full month behind the city. The sakura still dressed in winter.

The picture is just hanging on, like a baby tooth trying to wiggle out of the mouth of a child. A strong wind will pull it down. The dirty white has a new subtle green patina.






This is a short film produced on the occasion of my exhibition endless at be-kyoto gallery in Kyoto, Japan 2021.







This is Part 12 in the series of short films documenting the (four)est art project in the mountains of northern Kyoto (Japan).


January 2021





Kuta Jan 2021




notes and impressions

part 12 (January 10, 2021)


Ah...snow!  The week before dropped some 20 centimeters of snow, and the frigid temperatures meant it hadn't disappeared completely.  Since I began the project I've wanted to see the paintings nestled in snow.  It's all down to chance.  365 days.  Sun, clouds, rain - high probability.  Snow?  Not so much.  This was as close as I've come.


It's kind of amazing, the force of nature.  Once it starts to roll - watch out!  Not quite 3 years and it has left an irreversible mark on these paintings.  I'm not sure they belong to me anymore.




Kameoka Jan 2021


亀岡 | Kameoka


The stones in the stream glassy with ice. Morning light. -2°C.

The painting appears to have suffered another attack by wild boar. Again I find the painting face down half buried in leaves. It’s beginning to look a little sad. Beat up, wounded. I wonder what will be left after another year.




Miyama Jan 2021


美山 | Miyama


Clouds play with the light – on, off, on, off… A small crack in the surface. This painting has somehow sidestepped the rapid deterioration of the other three pieces.




Keihoku Jan 2021


京北 | Keihoku


The matchbox jumble of fallen trees frosted with snow. Confectioner’s delight. The little stream half-frozen, an almost imperceptible trickle. Subliminal cinema.

A tiny pile of snow, like a fallen scoop of ice cream, sits on the painting. Gorgeous afternoon shadows dance across the surface. Earthy brown still dominates.




Kuta Jan 2021


久多 | Kuta


Kuta is covered in snow. That delightful crunch beneath my boots. Ha! Winter! For the first time, a real harmony of color, painting and forest: white.

The painting has nearly separated from the supports. Warped, bent over like an old man. I expect to find this on the ground in the spring.







1.   We get each other quickly

2.   儚い

3.   treading water

4.   start / end (?)

5.   on a knife’s edge

6.   the principle

7.   the burnt toast

8.   a shadow quivers

9.   because I’m poor

10.  keep going

11.  He stole away

12.  You can’t blame it on the weather

13.  talking (and not talking)

14.  end one-way street

15.  It is next month.

16.  You can’t fall apart

17.  Never going to make it

18.  “They can’t kill you if you’re laughing.”

19.  you’ll see

20.  A martini will change your outlook

21.  a year passed

22.  a stumbling beauty

23.  The days and weeks and months slip by

24.  waiting for it to break

25.  a Japan moment

26.  “Well, I would say that I’m just drifting.”

27.  cheesy love songs

28.  It’s a good life.

29.  longing for

30.  It’s all a show

31.  picking out the bones

32.  an arrangement of space

33.  degrees

All content © 2011 by Robert Wallace
Powered by East Of Western