mjj (flemmings) wrote,

Sic transit

The melancholy of spring has arrived: warm weather, budding trees, a greying and softening of the world. Last night slept with neither hoodie nor socks, warm in my duvet coccoon, and very nice too. But this afternoon I went to the exhibition of painted screens (byobu) at the Japan Foundation, and the sadness bit hard and deep.

For twenty years TJF has been in a building called the Colonnade, which was a groundbreaker in its day: on the tony block of Bloor St just past Avenue Rd, with fashionable apartments above and fashionable stores and cafes on the first two floors, and a little gem of a theatre hidden in the centre. Of course, what was fashionable in the 60s is too declasse for the 21st century. All the little boutiques on the second floor are gone, replaced by one large restaurant, one large jeweller's, one large eye doctor's clinic, a single cafe tucked in at one end, a conveni cum postal outlet tucked in the other, and the Japan Foundation. Articles all say that the renovation in the 80s did for the building. I seem to recall it was still pleasant enough in the early part of that decade, and even in 2001; but now it's not merely soulless, it's down at heels. The floors of the Foundation are aging concrete, the walls tatty plaster, and the screens on display in two tiny rooms are, shall we say, not up to the standards of what I saw in Tokyo. Which is unfair- the artist is modern and Argentinian- but it all seems of a piece with the sense of vanished past ('and it was so much better than it is today') that spring melancholy always carries with it.

(The Buddhist seminar last night had us considering what losses we've had in life, and what we've gained from them. I'm not sure I've gained anything from losing the places I spent my adolescence: but maybe it's only because it hasn't yet taught me to stop looking backwards. 'The suffering guaranteed by wanting things to last' as Pema Chodron puts it.)
Tags: art, place, religion

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