In Greek mythology, we find the story of Sisyphus.

Sisyphus was a man whose punishment for defying the Gods was being forced to push a massive boulder up a mountain slope. However, every time he approached the summit of the mountain, the boulder would roll back down to the bottom, and he must repeat the process for all eternity. Since then, the word “Sisyphean” has been used to signify “exhausting labor that is ultimately in vain.”

The French author Albert Camus took an affirmative reading of the story, suggesting that Sisyphus represents the way human beings continue to live despite knowing that they will eventually die. Meanwhile, the Japanese philosopher Kuki Shuzo saw Sisyphus’s willingness to continue a task that was essentially meaningless as revealing the free will and dignity at the core of human character.

The feeling inspired by Watabe’s artworks resonates with these ideas.

It always seems as if the frail, helpless, “wordless” creatures in his paintings are silently confronting some thing or event. For us viewers, it is difficult to directly comprehend whatever worth they may feel.

And yet, they have chosen to be themselves, rather than any other, and live out that choice before our eyes.

Such a sight can’t help but pierce viewers’ hearts.

Even without words, there is no denying their will.

You are not alone
h91 × w73cm
oil on wood panel


Wordless creatures (sheep people) cuddle together in mutual support and protect the secret thoughts and feelings they each hold in their hearts.

Even things that others fail to understand, or see the value of, have an inner terrain where no one can tread.

19/04/2023(wed) -  27/04/2023(thu)

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