With the influences of a Japanese philosophy, repeatingly emerging questions about our judgement of ‘beauty’ throughout the history of the Fine Arts (known in other language circles as beautiful arts), and the quotidian aesthetic finds that make us stop and look, the ugly which attracts has consistently piqued my interest.
Wabi-sabi began in Japan. As a philosophical and spiritual aesthetics approach, it began emerging out of Buddhism towards the fifteenth century, aiming to awaken an appreciation for the soul of things which are ugly and unfinished in their appearance. It stood purposely in contrast to contemporaneous ideals of richness, and admiration for ornaments, gold and silver in China.
Beauty is that which is beautiful, even if merely in the eyes of the observer. Yet, I stop regularly to admire and often photograph objects, ruins, or filth which attract me, due to their beauty conveying ugliness. And when we recall the likes of Pablo Picasso, Max Neuman, or Francis Bacon, many of their “Beaux Art” / “Schöne Künste” / “Bellas Artes” works, are actually fine as subjective observations but their beauty is only a cultural implication.
For years I have documented a number of tasseography moments found in cups with coffee and tea rests, sediments, or grounds that were no longer drinkable. I do not read fortune in them but simply appreciate their beauty, some clearly resembling actual objects, not just being wildly assumed interpretations of contour.
While this photograph is appealing in its atmospheric feel through light, frame and composition, the object itself is beauty, though true ugliness