Japan Art and Ito Shinsui: Clocks, Time, and Sir Roger Penrose

Japan Art and Ito Shinsui: Clocks, Time, and Sir Roger Penrose

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Ito Shinsui (1898-1972) was born during the Meiji Period (1868-1912). Accordingly, he is a child of the Meiji modernization processes that were taking place in Japan. Therefore, throughout his lifetime, Shinsui witnessed liberalism, nationalism, militarism, the devastation of war, the modernization of the post-war period, and the start of skyscrapers.

The lovely prints by Shinsui concern clocks and elegant ladies. They represent the changing times of the Edo Period, Meiji Period, and Showa Period before the war – with the final print below focusing on the post-war period (the 1950s).

The distinguished Sir Roger Penrose was born in 1931 in England. He is a mathematician, mathematical physicist, and a philosopher of science. Penrose is also a Nobel Laureate in Physics.

Accordingly, Shinsui was a firmly established Japanese artist when Penrose was born.

Penrose says: “Objective mathematical notions must be thought of as timeless entities and are not to be regarded as being conjured into existence at the moment that they are first humanly perceived.” 

In another quote by Penrose, he says: “What the Second Law indeed states, roughly speaking, is that things are getting more ‘random’ all the time.” 

In the prints by Shinsui, he connects beauty, the ticking clock of time, and ongoing change through the prism of art. A reflection, a mirage – or anything you desire. For example, “continuity.”

In another famous quote, Penrose says: “Our present picture of physical reality, particularly in relation to the nature of time, is due for a grand shake up.”

Similarly, the reality represented in the prints by Shinsui hides the bigger picture of Japanese culture and society – where only the clicking clock is constant. Accordingly, the treatment of women – high culture to the working poor and the convulsions of this vast period (positive and negative) of Japanese history are out of sight.

https://www.thriftbooks.com/a/roger-penrose/218176/ – Books by Sir Roger Penrose

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