Art: Spare Clarity

Wabi is one of the key ideas in traditional Japanese culture. It has to do with spareness, poverty and austerity. A teahouse, made of bare, unlacquered wood, with its straw thatch and river stones, displays wabi. Wabi is the rough, salty irregularity of a classical tea bowl, the plain twig in a flower arrangement, the coarse black cotton of a kimono. Its meaning extends beyond the sphere of aesthetics into a more general discipline; it suggests an uncluttered and precisely lived life in which the individual is brought into a clear relationship with...

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