Articles

Wabi Sabi

31/05/2022
Wabi sabi is the beauty of imperfect things.
In traditional Japanese aesthetics Wabi sabi is a world view centred on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of appreciating beauty that is "imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete" in nature. It is prevalent throughout all forms of Japanese art.

Wabi-Sabi is a view or thought of finding beauty in every aspect of imperfection in nature. It is about the aesthetic of things in existence, that are imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. The beauty found in asymmetrical, uneven or unbalanced things, the asymmetry of a ceramic bowl is an example Wabi. It is the beauty of aged things and speaks of the impermanence of life through the passage of time. An example of Sabi would be the lovely patina found on a rusted old metal wall.

Wabi-sabi is a concept that motions us to constantly search for the beauty in imperfection and accept the more natural cycle of life. It reminds us that all things including us and life itself, are impermanent, incomplete, and imperfect. Perfection, then, is impossible and impermanence is the only way.

If everything in nature is always changing, then nothing can ever be absolutely complete. And since perfection is a state of completeness, then nothing can ever be perfect. Hence, the wabi-sabi philosophy teaches us that all things, including us and life itself, are impermanent, incomplete, and imperfect.


There is no real beauty without some slight imperfection.

I feel a more emotional connection to an imperfect image. I can see beauty in the odd, and celebrate their defects and failings. To banish imperfection is to destroy expression. Images that are are unsharp, or out-of-focus, are more effective at conveying emotion than ‘picture-perfect’ versions of reality. Life is raw, imperfect, sometimes confusing, and often out-of-focus, pictures should reflect that reality. We should not have everything explained, with all uncertainty eliminated, because trying to analyse or understand is often too challenging. The subtlety of black and white also inspires the imagination of the individual viewer to complete the picture in the mind's eye.
Picasso or Matisse, didn’t draw or paint ‘realistic’ images– they drew what was on their mind, and how they saw and interpreted their own personal reality.