Luke Hardy Yuki Onna
2009 Meyer Gallery
Luke Hardy has depicted, as subjects, Buddhist monks, kimonos and snow monkeys in works of stylized simplicity. The work is ascetic, but it demands an emotional response; the images are sometimes in soft focus, but the intent is precisLuke shows a strong affinity with Japanese aesthetics. The word that best sums up this aesthetic is wabi: a simple, austere beauty. An appreciation of beauty, so Zen Buddhists believe, requires an altered state of consciousness, a quiet mind and a cultivated eye to discern subtlety.
Luke’s work here invokes Yuki Onna, a legendary snow woman. Something of a ghost, she wears a white kimono, appears to travellers trapped in snowstorms and uses her icy breath to freeze them. There are many stories about Yuki Onna, the most famous [set down] by Lafcadio Hearn. Yuki Onna takes pity on a woodcutter and spares him because of his youth and beauty. She makes him swear an oath that he will never tell anyone about their meeting. Later she returns in human form and marries him. The have children and live happily. One night he tells her she reminds him of a beautiful woman he met. She reviles him for breaking his promise and disappears.
Luke hardy has used this legend as inspiration for his work, taking the wedding kimono as his central motif. The images describe oblique emotions that the story has provoked. Another term that comes to my mind when viewing them is yugen: profound grace, but with undertones of something dark and mysterious.
William Yang, 2011