Why paint the rainbow?

Akira Kugimachi

11th October, 2022

I had wanted to paint a rainbow for a while but the idea seemed too obvious so I put it aside. I told myself that one day inspiration would strike. 

Then, by chance, one evening in the south of France, I saw a rainbow upside down.
I rushed to capture the scene with my camera, but it didn't immediately become an artistic creation and lay dormant in my mind for a while.

My father passed away a few years ago. It was at that precise moment that the desire to paint a rainbow came to me. Perhaps it was a way for me to begin the mourning process, to accept his death by accompanying him to heaven through the symbolism of this spectral apparition. 

In researching, I learned that in Norse mythology, the rainbow represented a bridge between Earth and Heaven, the bifrost. Also, in many other cultures, the etymology of the word is the bridge between our world and the afterlife. 

I couldn't help but feel a certain synchronicity between this searing desire and the triggering event. The rainbow is as ephemeral as human life is a blink of an eye in the long history of the universe. Perhaps it was this commonality that inspired me.

I decided to create a series of paintings that would form a rainbow spectrum when the ten pieces were put together, each piece representing a single colour of a rainbow in reverse.

To produce the blue and red rainbow colours, which could be described as vibrations of light, I first blackened the canvas with Indian ink. Then I superimposed thin layers of natural mineral pigments, like a ritual, one after the other. A faint light emerged as I went along, like a glow in the dark. 

The fact that the way tea is prepared, and the way it is made, gradually becomes ritualized, may be due to the anxiety of being alive (Sen no Rikyu: Mugon no zen-ei, by Genpei Akasegawa)."

Perhaps through the repetition of certain acts, in other words by establishing rituals, man draws strength from trying to tame the anxiety of death and summon the mysterious other.

It is because our life is limited that we try to live in a world of freedom. Death, that unknown that will arrive sooner or later, gives us wings to create, that act which is infinite.  

To integrate art into one's life and to face it is, in essence, to spend one's days as if one were reborn, constantly confronting life and death, that is, the fact that one is mortal.

Only by being aware of the boundary between the afterlife and this world, and by facing life and death, can one dream of spreading one's wings into a world beyond oneself and others, and perhaps in doing so, one encounters a new self.

Original text


調べてみると、虹というのは北欧神話では「あの世とこの世を繋ぐ橋 (”Bifrost”)」 という意味があるようです。



「お茶を入れる、その入れ方が次第に儀式化していくというのは、生きている不安によるものではないか(「千利休 無言の前衛」赤瀬川原平 著)」


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Akira Kugimachi


Born in 1968 in Yokohama, Akira Kugimachi graduated from the University of Fine Arts of Tama in Tokyo, and from the University of Paris VIII. Since 1999, he has devoted himself entirely to his own creation and is regularly exhibited in Japan, Europe, the United States and England, in addition to private and public commissions, such as for the fashion designer Kenzo Takada. The artist frequently carries out commissions for numerous contemporary art collectors. He has created several pieces for the designer Kenzo Takada. Using Japanese paper and natural mineral pigments, Kugimachi works with light and time, and creates natural and timeless landscapes, which go beyond reality, and open the way to "prepare ourselves for the end of our existence, and accept the fear of death".