"Kokoro" is a book project that we started in order to present the subjective way we see Irezumi. We felt that previous books on the matter, (some good, some bad) never really touched the heart of the matter, the spirit of Irezumi. To find that spirit one has to go further than merely showing tattoos and discussing history and technique. Irezumi is basically a metaphor for the Japanese spirit, where a myriad of expressions of the cultural soul falls together into a whole.
Even though "Kokoro" will be showing photographs of Master Horiyoshi III's work and the Master himself, we have the intention to dare into a more poetic and soulful field of portraiture.
We will not try to tell the reader and viewer "how it is" but rather "how we see it".
Telling the "truth" is something that is prone to failure, and since all is Grey, and never Black and White, we have to find our own path to walk in this project.
"Kokoro" will speak in a tounge of imagery and words that hopefully will create rythm and journey to the reader. The book will touch on spiritual matters as well as the practical side of things.
When spending time with an artist like Horiyoshi III it becomes all to clear that he is as fluid as he is firm in his tradition. The power of his creativity suggests that of Hokusai and Kyosai and maybe his legacy will be timeless and inspire thousands to pick up brush and ink, needle and hand.
In all honesty, making "Kokoro" is like catching a fish with your bare hands.
(photograph by Matti Sedholm, Horiyoshi III's studio, Yokohama, Japan 2009)