dear manfred makra,

ancient japanese art and culture is perhaps the most subtle of any in the world. as you wirte: my cycle “letters to japan” was created through joyful
anticipation of your voyge to this beautiful country, before embanking of
the journey there. what were you hoping to find ?

the silence and depth of zen ?
the refined simplicity and variety of japanese cuisine ?
the exquisite gardens and parks ?
the japanese learnt everything from the chinese but surpassed their
masters in a unique way. not by inventing a new, but by giving everything
a finish touch. was it this you were looking for ?
or the grace of the woman with the radiance and dignity one can never
tire to behold ?
the landscape with the divinity of fujii ?
the light ? the ocean ? the wind ?
the poetry in the haiku ?
seshun, shubun, hakuin - the masters of ink drawing ?
the sculptures from the heian age till muromachi ?
the architecture of temples and villas (katsura!)?
or was it just simply, the gentle intoxication of warm rice wine ?

you were known in the 80s and 90s for the warm poetry in you lyric-geometric paintings. also for your archipittura, wall paintings bringing life to
room and space. always full and complete with that same radiant silence which links you with your inspirational source, calderara. in your cycle “letters
to japan” the geometric forms - in the main body of the painting or standing
like guardians at the canvas periphery - contain scriptural and amorphous
elements which permit form to evaporate, the dissolution of the world, but
without the bitterness of destruction. bright, cheerful and exact to the point is
the impression these works leave on me. the dissolving and eradication of signs and symbols hint of a dynamic between remembering and forgetting, of
an up and down between subconciousness and cognitive; of a both- and
inclusiveness which europeans have so much more difficulty with than the

your works, old and new taken together, now represent the “complete emptiness” – without the slightest touch of nihilism, anger cynicism or despair;
an approach that is seldom sought in the west and even more seldom, found.

with heartfelt greetings and good wishes for your next and imminent return
to japan,

with best regards

essay I raimer jochims
letter to japan