Introducing Hachiro Kanno

17 March 2014

Visit of the workshop: Hachiro Kanno

Hachiro Kanno’s painting draws its resources from Japanese calligraphy and his favourite themes in Zen philosophy. A cross between two cultures, it succeeds in conveying a universal message of which the key word would be “permanescence”.



TN 557, Hachiro Kanno. Diptych composed by two canvas of the same size  (195x 114 cm). Photograph : Pierre Mendelssohn.

Coming from a family of traditional calligraphers, growing up with the rites of Shinto, Hachiro Kanno arrived in France in 1968 to continue his studies at the Fine Arts School of Paris. Since 1979 he has set up his workshop in the Bateau-Lavoir, the residence for artists in Montmartre made famous by Brancusi, Modigliani, Max Jacob or Picasso…

His painting succeeds in synthesising his Oriental heritage with western influences. Japanese calligraphy, with its expressive way of tracing each line, constitutes the basis of his approach. The artist explores the different possibilities and transforms them into an abstract writing, a “writing come painting”.

Sometimes soft and voluptuous, sometimes tight and determined, the trace indicates the rapidity of the stroke or indeed the slowness. With a reduced palette, Hachiro Kanno plays on these contrasts and on others still: positive and negative, shadow and light…

The artist uses Japanese ink and acrylic. For the white he works with powdered pearl shell which gives his compositions a changing glint depending on the angle of observation. There is in his canvasses the immediately visible and then there’s the gradually revealing. These are fixed images which read like a film and which unfold with time rather than in the moment. Like a journey from the surface to the depths of the canvas, with the brush stroke as your guide.

His painting is inseparable from a meditation of life which remains steeped in Zen philosophy. It endeavours particularly to express an idea that words cannot describe: the idea of permanence, and of the essence which goes with it, what the painter designates, by the neologism, as “permanescence”. “Today, when I paint I express myself differently to the way I did yesterday and to the way I will tomorrow. And yet, in me, there is an essentiality which lingers: yesterday, today, tomorrow right up to my death and even then beyond… That is what I want to convey by the notion of permanescence.”


Hachiro KANNO - Peintre - Painter - Paris - Artistics from Artistics on Vimeo.

Below some photographs taken during our visit to Hachiro Kanno's workshop.