16 x 20 | flashe water media
This painting is the 2nd in a series based on the 'tsuba' or 'hand guard' on the Japanese sword. Its theme comes from a 15th century ink wash by Josetsu called, "Catching a Catfish with a Gourd." It is one of the earliest known Zen ink paintings and today considered a national treasure in Japan.
In the center of Josetsu's painting stands a shabby figure of a man holding a gourd. He's pointing it down towards an enormous catfish in the water below as if fishing. Across the top of the painting are inscribed 31 poems, each written by a different hand, interpreting the question, "How do you catch a catfish with a gourd?" Is it possible?! No, of course not. It's a slippery business. Perhaps this task suggests the difficulty of realizing an enlightened life.
At the very top of Josetsu's painting, above the 31 poems, it says, "Don't be fooled into thinking about this too seriously."