PENULTIMATE




INTRO


I had planned to make this the last chapter, whose two parts were Karlyn de Jongh's Unanswered Questions for On Kawara, taking us from 2007 to the beginning of 2011. Then moving to the SILENCE exhibition at the Guggenheim, planning for which was begun in October 2011. But in the researching of the essay, I've realised the importance of Date Painting in New York and 136 Cities, which I've been using rather narrowly up to now. The making of that exhibition and book must have deeply involved On Kawara in 2011, so I must dig into that.

Still a two-part essay, then. But a different second part. Maybe I'm trying to put off the inevitable end of this project.



ONE

As I've just said, Karlyn de Jongh's
Unanswered Questions for On Kawara began in 2007. Knowing that On Kawara would not make a statement of his own about his work, she came at such a 'statement' through questions that people that had known On would like to ask him. Collecting the questions was a slow process. Let's summarise On's Date Painting while she gets to work…

2009. Monthly total of Date paintings: 1, 3, 1, 3, 7, 2, 5, 3, 3, 2, 2, 3. Yearly total 35. No two consecutive days painted. Four of the Dates reproduced in the literature. Meanwhile, for Karlyn de Jongh, the questions for On Kawara were coming in, of which this is an example:

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By May, 2009, Karlyn de Jongh felt she had enough questions from art world people, and made an attempt to meet On Kawara in New York. She rang the doorbell at 140 Greene Street, but got no answer. A second time she rang the bell and spoke to a woman she presumed was Hiroko, who told her that On was out. On a third occasion she watched as an elderly Japanese couple made their way into a car, their luggage being carried by
a younger person. This was on May 7, 2009. Were On and Hiroko on their way to Paris or Tokyo? I don't think they were, according to the Date Painting record. But I may come back to that in the second part of this essay.

In October, Karlyn de Jongh published a book of 79 unanswered questions to On Kawara. She tried to present the artist with copy of this in New York, but again didn't manage to meet him. She was in London, at the Lisson Gallery, when a chance meeting with Nicholas Logsdail took place. He told her: “He is a wonderful artist. If you want to meet On Kawara, do it soon. He smokes several packs of cigarettes a day and is not in good health."

On Kawara had long been a heavy smoker. This photo of him from his early career in Japan shows him smoking in his studio. It does not look as if he was enjoying being photographed, even then:

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Given the terminal lung cancer this sadly led to in 2014, let's follow through with the smoking business. This photo shows On Kawara's studio in 1966.

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Reproduced with the forbearance, I hope, of the copyright holders, On Kawara Studio and David Zwirner, New York.

The ashtray is to the right of where On sat to paint. Close by is a packet of Lucky Strike cigarettes. I wonder how long it took some ad agency to choose that name over something like Lung Shafters.

Another photos of the studio in 1966 shows an ashtray loaded with cigarette stubs. At this time the fag industry was still trying to say there was no association between smoking and lung disease.

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Reproduced with the forbearance, I hope, of the copyright holders, On Kawara Studio and David Zwirner, New York.

Smoking Lucky Strikes while making a Date Painting whose subtitle commemorated the Gemini space mission. That's quite a strong pattern. As Oscar Wilde said: “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars."

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No need to over-complicate things, René. What you're really trying to ask is 'Is consciousness blinking, between painting and smoking?'

Let's move on. Below is On Kawara's studio on Greene Street in 1979. As you can see, On's smoking gear is again to his right: ashtray, lighter and cig packet.

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Reproduced with the forbearance, I hope, of the copyright holders.

It would seem that On has changed his brand. Certainly, the packet of cigarettes in the above image is called 'Parliament'. Do these smokes give an air of distinction to the smoker? "After I've finished this little puff, I'm off to the House to vote on the Sale of Goods Act."

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What a thing of beauty is a flip-top box of cigs. On must have considered, on a near daily basis, making his Date Painting boxes flip-top.

And see how the rolled tubes of tobacco are tightly packed together? 7 + 6 + 7 = 20 golden moments, 20 glorious smokes, 20 spectacular lights.

Did On have his first Parliament after putting on the preliminary coat of raw Sienna? Another fag after the second coat. What a perfect start to another day. And later, in the afternoon, applying white paint in coat after coat in order to build up the letters and numbers. The effect that On was going for was the perfectly smooth white of a cigarette paper when wrapped tightly around a tube of tobacco. Bliss.

Jumping forward another decade, to On's temporary studio in Rome in 1990:

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Reproduced with the forbearance, I hope, of the copyright holders.

At first glance, a smoke-free zone. None of the sequence of photos taken on 27 October show any sign of the Date Painter having been smoking. However, the following photo taken the next day, and from another angle, shows the truth of the matter.

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Reproduced with the forbearance, I hope, of the copyright holders, On Kawara Studio and David Zwirner, New York.

The ashtray was still to On's right as he Date Painted. And there is a packet of Marlboro cigarettes on the corner of the table nearest the camera. Was On Kawara a Marlboro Man, then? I guess he was. Just as he'd been a Lucky Striker and an MP.

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A year later. It is 12.12 P.M.. The Date Painting is nearing the end of its first coat of white lettering and numbering and there is no sign of a ciggy.

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Reproduced with the forbearance, I hope, of the copyright holders, and One Million Years Foundation.

But by 2.25P.M., see below, On Kawara has smoked two cigarettes. He may have smoked more, of course. So let's take 2.25 as our starting point for the cigarette count.

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Reproduced with the forbearance, I hope, of the copyright holders, and One Million Years Foundation.

By 3.35pm, see below, he has smoked three cigarettes. That's only one in an hour. Of course, he may have had to wait for a new packet to arrive.

Hiroko: "Sorry, On, they didn't have any filter-tipped left."

On (removing the sellophane with dextrous fingers and operating the flip-top box). "That's OK, Hiro, don't stress."

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Reproduced with the forbearance, I hope, of the copyright holders, and One Million Years Foundation.

And by 4.15pm, see below, there are still only three cigarette stubs in the ashtray. There are still 19 perfect cigarettes tightly packed into the white cube of a box. He is so into the Date Painting that he has stopped smoking. He may never smoke again. On is in the moment and is going to live forever!

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Reproduced with the forbearance, I hope, of the copyright holders, and One Million Years Foundation.

Sure, by 5pm, see below, he has smoked another. But that is only two cigarettes in two-and-a-half hours.

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Reproduced with the forbearance, I hope, of the copyright holders, and One Million Years Foundation.

By 6.52P.M. there is no sign of the ashtray. Does that mean he has stopped smoking for the day? Or does it mean that his smoking operation has moved to another part of the room?

The above photo sequence is taken from the exquisite little book
JUNE 9,1991, which even shows two perfect fags on the cover.

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Another two sequences are shown in the volume,
Whole and Parts. The 36 photos of the Date Painting operation on 6 AUG, 1992 in Tokyo, show no signs of any simultaneous smoking operation. However, the same number of photos of the painting process in Paris on 20FEV.1993 are let down by image number 33, which shows part of an ashtray with three stubs in it.

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Reproduced with the forbearance, I hope, of the copyright holders, and One Million Years Foundation.

On Kawara was smoking in Japan, pre-Date Painting. He was smoking in 1966; smoking in 1979; smoking in 1990, 1991 and1993; and, according to Nicolas Logsdail's and Jonathan Watkins' independent testimony, smoking heavily from 1997 onwards. It's quite possible that On Kawara smoked all his adult life.

Addiction is a potent force, and at this point I should say something about my own. Since the age of seventeen I've had the pleasure of drinking three pints of beer, or the best part of a bottle of wine, most days of my life. Since making my first Date Painting on May 7, 2021, my average alcohol consumption has gone up slightly. I put this down, in part, to the stimulation of the Date Painting process. On Kawara described his process as meditative, and I'm sure it was in his case. But I am always so pleased by the emerging good-enough-to-be-photographed picture, that by the evening I'm imagining the Date Painting in various places and juxtapositions, and my mind is racing. When I am in a celebratory mood, I like to have a drink. Hence my recognition that Date Painting days are by no means non-drinking days.

As well as that, Date Paintings tend to be attempted in a day following a period of essay writing. Usually, but not always, I wait until the end of a chapter before having a Date Painting day. In previous writing projects, this would have been a rest day, and I may have had a day, or even two days, without any alcohol.

Realising this a couple of days ago, I abandoned my plan to make a painting on MAY8,2022. Instead I enjoyed an alcohol-free day, my first for several weeks. Today, May 9,2022, though a writing day, is also intended to be alcohol-free. That is, if I can refrain from getting over-stimulated by today's so-far-successful writing process, which - the over-stimulation - is something I can already feel buzzing away at the back of my consciousness.

This is what I must avoid. Feeling very much 'still alive'. Feeling like celebrating this satisfying fact by sitting back with a glass of wine and dwelling on it. I would liken it to resting on one's laurels. That feeling of complacency that follows the realisation of success in life. Where the laurel wreath is taken from the brow, the aromatic leaves shredded, placed in a cigarette paper, rolled into the perfect tube, and smoked. The delicious smoking experience complemented by a steady flow of fine wine. Thus simultaneously engaging the taste buds, the throat, the stomach, the lungs, the racing blood and the brain.

Where was I? Moving into 2010. Here is On's Date Painting pattern:

2010: Monthly Dates: 2, 3, 4, 4, 4, 1, 3, 2, 2, 2, 2, 4. Making a total 33. No consecutive days. I've seen four of the year's Dates in reproduction. One of them, made in March, was given a subtitle (other than the day of the week), only the second since the end of 1972.

Title:
MAR.13, 2010: Sub-title: “after the whole is taken from the whole, behold, the remainder is whole.” Iashavasya Upanishad.

I have also seen repros of
FEB.8,2010, AUG 11,2010 and DEC.3,2010.

In autumn of 2010, Karlyn de Jongh heard that Daniel Marzona, who worked at Konrad Fischer Gallery, and who she'd received a question from about On in 2009, was going to meet On Kawara in New York. She asked if she could tag along. Daniel explained that it was not a definite appointment and so there was no guarantee that it would happen, but in principle, yes.

It didn't happen. Instead Karlyn found herself speaking again to Nicholas Logsdail, this time on the phone. He told her that On’s physical state was critical and that he no longer wanted to see anybody. According to Nicholas, Jonathan Watkins was one of the very few people in touch with the artist - and even that relationship was uncertain.

At the beginning of 2011, in a last throw of the dice, Karlyn de Jongh posted the questions she had gathered to the artist. In other words she sent 79 postcards to On Kawara, plus a few more in case some got lost in the post. These were returned, stamped 'RETURN TO SENDER'.

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Reproduced with the forbearance, I hope, of the copyright holder, Karlyn de Jongh.

I would have taken this to be good sign. The artist, famous for stamping cards of his own, creates a stamp which he uses on another artist's work. Not quite a seal of approval, but at least, on an aesthetic level, it's an engagement.

Karlyn de Jongh is bit vague about the timeline here. It seems she sent all the cards on January 5, 2011. She adds only that she got them back 'months' later.

Meanwhile, on March 22, 2011, Karlyn phoned Jonathan Watkins and explained how deeply she still wanted to meet On Kawara. On 22 March 2011, Jonathan wrote an email to her which is reproduced in Karlyn's
written summary of her project. Jonathan said he would be in touch with On and get back to her as soon as possible. 'He will say "no" most probably, and of course that will signify he is still alive.' It strikes me that this was a thoughtful email, echoing On Kawara's response to the postcards. Two days later, Jonathan wrote again. 'Dear Karlyn, It's a "no" I'm afraid.'



TWO

By 2011, I think On Kawara realised that his travelling days were over. That might explain why the organising of the exhibition
Date Painting in New York and 136 Other Cities was put into motion. There was going to be no 137th City.

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The show took place at David Zwirner's gallery in New York, between January 6 and February 11, 2012. The curators of the show (and the editors of the accompanying book) were Tommy Simoens and Angela Choon, the latter of whom worked for David Zwirner and who accompanied the Kawara family to Dallas for the 2008 show, '10 Tableaux and 16,952 Pages'.

As you can see from the next image, the book begins with small, back-view of On Kawara. What is he doing? It looks as if he is looking over to Manhattan from another of the islands of New York. Or vice versa. Perhaps the latter, standing on Manhattan, contemplating the wider world that he can no longer explore.

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Is On smoking or not? Let's take a closer look.

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Reproduced with the forbearance, I hope, of the copyright holder.

It is certainly possible to imagine a packet of Marlboros in his left hand, and a cigarette held between the fingers of his right hand. Or perhaps On has given up smoking by this stage, in an effort to live a few more days. For a start, he wanted to finish this 2011/2012 project. In 2002, for Ikon, he had conceived a show of Date Paintings, all Sundays, one per year from 1966 to 2002. In 2008, for Dallas, the focus had switched to his largest paintings, all of them. Whereas this time, for New York, the organising principle was where he was when he painted each and every one of the Dates. Was he home or away? In New York or elsewhere?

As you can see from the next image, the book has a symmetrical structure. It begins with a reproduction of a One Hundred Years Calendar, the 100 years of the 20th Century. It ends with another One Hundred Years Calendar, the 21st Century. The latter is made up to December the 17th, 2011. Now there is one later One Hundred Years Calendar that I'm aware of, and that was made up until a month or so later, until February 11, 2012. Perhaps the calendar made up to December 17, 2011 was intended for the show, opening less than a month later, and the February one was meant to be reproduced in the book, given that February 11 was the closing date of the show. But whether or not that was the original plan, it was the December 2011 one that was reproduced, leaving the February 11, 2012 calendar to be reproduced in both
SILENCE and the Glenstone catalogue. Sorry, that was bit anal. I am trying hard not to give unnecessary detail, but I've feeling that some readers are going to find this chapter hard going.

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Reproduced with the forbearance, I hope, of the copyright holders, David Zwirner and One Million Years Foundation.

Of more significance is the other pencilled grouping in the above Contents' page, that is between 'Date Painting(s) in New York' and 'Date Painting(s) in 136 Other Cities'. Now basically this is where a batch of Date illustrations, one per year, covering 100 pages, go into the 'New York' section. And another batch of Dates, this time with their accompanying boxes each lined with newspaper cutting, covering 126 pages, goes into the '136 Other Cities' section. However, each of these sections is prefaced by what I took to be a design element in the book. It's simply a list of dates. There is a five-page section at the front of the 'New York' section, beginning thus:

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Reproduced with the forbearance, I hope, of the copyright holders, David Zwirner and One Million Years Foundation.

The equivalent preface to the 'Other Cities' section is shorter, just this one page:

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Reproduced with the forbearance, I hope, of the copyright holders, David Zwirner and One Million Years Foundation.

I didn't look at this properly before. It has a way of deflecting the eye. I now realise that these two documents, taken together, give a reliable record of where On Kawara was in the world as he Date Painted. This information can be got from his yearly Journals for 1966 until 1979, as they are reproduced in the 1980 book, On Kawara continuity/discontuity. But thereafter the journals weren't published. This document provides an alternative and neat summary of geographical information for the many, many years of On Kawara's career after 1979.

It becomes practically useable only when it's broken down into individual years and the two documents are conjoined. Which is what I've done. And so I am going to revisit and supplement - within this present essay - the following essays on this site: 'the 1980s'; '1990'; '1991-1993'; '1994-1996'; '1997-2007' and '2008'.

OK, here goes. The black numbers/letters relate to New York, the red ones are away from New York, with me having added the red colour. The exact format of each date, and spelling of the month abbreviation, giving clues as to which country the artist was visiting.

1980
JAN 5,1980 JAN.8,1980 JAN.14,1980 JAN.25,1980 FEB.9,1980 FEB.19,1980 MAR.7,1980 MAR.11,1980 APR.1,1980 APR.3,1980 APR.6,1980 APR.11,1980 APR.16,1980 APR.17,1980 APR.23,1980 APR.30,1980 MAY7,1980 MAY12,1980 MAY28,1980 MAY31,1980 JUNE20,1980 JUNE23,1980 JULY4,1980 JULY5,1980 JULY 6,1980 JULY24,1980 AUG.6,1980 AUG.10,1980 AUG29,1980 SEPT.19,1980 SEPT.23,1980 OCT.9,1980 OCT.11,1980 NOV.10,1980 NOV.16,1980 DEC.9,1980 DEC.10,1980 DEC.13,1980 DEC.21,1980 DEC.28,1980

1980 was the year in which Sahe was born, and On Kawara did not leave New York, so there are no dates in the 'Other Cities' section. Nothing I needed to print in red. How about the following year?

1981
JAN.7,1981 JAN.19,1981 FEB.22,1981 FEB.26,1981 MAR.17,1981 MAR.20,1981 MAR.26,1981 MAR.31,1981 APR.1,1981 APR.3,1981 APR.8,1981 APR.16,1981 MAY.15,1981 MAY.18,1981 MAY20,1981 MAY26,1981 MAY27,1981 JUNE 20,1981 JUNE 22,1981 JULY 7,1981 JULY 8,1981 JULY 9,1981 JULY31,1981 AUG.1,1981 AUG.3,1981 (Margaree, Nova Scotia) AUG.5,1981 AUG19,1981 SEPT.8,1981 SEPT.14,1981 SEPT.16,1981 SEPT.18,1981 SEPT.23,1981 SEPT.30,1981 OCT.7,1981 OCT.14,1981 OCT.16,1981 OCT.21,1981 OCT.30,1981 NOV.6,1981 NOV.8,1981 NOV.11,1981 NOV.17,1981 NOV.19,1981 NOV.23,1981 7DEC.1981 28DEC.1981

In 1981, the artist spent a summer holiday in Nova Scotia and December in France. I hadn't known that On spent December, 1981, in France. How do I know it was France and not Japan? That is good point - I don't. The abbreviation for the month of December, is the same in French as Esperanto.

1982
9 JAN. 1982 JAN.17,1982 JAN.18,1982 JAN.19,1982 JAN.21,1982 JAN.24,1982 JAN.25,1982 JAN.28,1982 JAN.31,1982 FEB.3,1982 FEB.6,1982 FEB.8,1982 FEB.10,1982 FEB.14,1982 FEB.17,1982 FEB.26,1982 FEB.28,1982 MAR.9,1982 MAR.30,1982 APR.19,1982 APR.27,1982 MAY 3,1982 MAY 11,1982 MAY25,1982 9 JUN.1982 (Tokyo) 18 JUL.1982 23 JUL.1982 (Kariya, Japan) 26 JUL.1982 5 AUG. 1982 AUG.30,1982 SEPT.8,1982 SEPT.29,1982 SEPT.30,1982 OCT.5,1982 OCT.25,1982 OCT.27,1982 NOV.16,1982 NOV.18,1982 DEC.10,1982 DEC.20,1982 DEC.27,1982

The abbreviation for January in French is JANV. So it looks as if On was in Japan for a month or so in Dec./Jan. of 1981/82. And then later in 1982, Hiroko and On probably having bought a house there, On was back in Japan for the summer.

1983
JAN.7,1983 JAN.10,1983 JAN.26,1983 FEB.14,1983 FEB.16,1983 FEB.18,1983 FEB.28,1983 MAR.9,1983 MAR.21,1983 MAR.24,1983 MAR.30,1983 APR.8,1983 APR.13,1983 APR.14,1983 APR.15,1983 APR.18,1983 APR.25,1983 APR.28,1983 MAY 2,1983 24MAJ.1983 (Tokyo) 13JUN.1983 16JUN.1983 7JUL.1983 17JUL.1983 26AUG.1983 SEPT.21,1983. SEPT.22,1983 SEPT.28,1983 OCT.3,1983 OCT.13,1983 NOV.10,1983. NOV.22,1983 NOV.25,1983 NOV.27,1983 NOV.28,1983 NOV.30,1983 DEC.2,1983 DEC.5,1983 DEC.8,1983 DEC.12,1983 DEC.18,1983 DEC.23,1983 DEC.30,1983 DEC.31,1983

This was the stage in his life when, for the sake of his children's education, On spent his summers in Japan. Temporarily, he had stopped all other travel.

1984
JAN 1,1984 JAN 5,1984 JAN 20,1984 JAN 22,1984 FEB.22,1984 FEB.29,1984. MAR.8,1984
20 MARS,1984 (Brussels) APR.7,1984 APR.12,1984 APR.22,1984. MAY12,1984 14JUN.1984. 18JUN.1984 20JUN.1984 6 JUL.1984 7JUL.1984 15.JULY,1984 4 AUG.1984 12AUG.1984 SEPT.8,1984 SEPT.14,1984 SEPT.25,1984 SEPT.27,1984 OCT.1,1984 OCT.7,1984 OCT.8,1984 OCT.9,1984 OCT.10,1984 OCT.11,1984 OCT.12,1984 OCT.13,1984 OCT.14,1984 OCT.26,1984 NOV.9,1984 NOV.21,1984 NOV.27,1984 NOV.29,1984 DEC.13,1984 DEC.19,1984 DEC.27,1984 DEC.29,1984

In 1984, a single bit of non-Japanese travel, to Brussels. That info comes from Date Painting in 89 Cities.

1985
JAN.9,1985 JAN.19,1985 JAN.20,1985 FEB.2,1985 FEB.12,1985 FEB.14,1985 FEB.23,1985 MAR.14,1985 MAR.26,1985 APR.28,1985 APR.30,1985 MAY9,1985 MAY11,1985 MAY16,1985 MAY21,1985 MAY27,1985 MAY30,1985 JUNE 1,1985 JUNE 2,1985 JUNE 3,1985. JUNE 4,1985 JUNE 5,1985 JUNE 6,1985 JUNE 7,1985 JUNE 8,1985. JUNE 9,1985 JUNE 19,1985 17JUL.1985 (Tokyo) 20 JUL.1985 3 AUG.1985 AUG.27,1985 AUG.28,1985. SEPT.15,1985 SEPT.28,1985 OCT.10,1985 OCT.22,1985 OCT.28,1985 NOV.19,1985 NOV.21,1985 NOV.26,1985 NOV.30,1985 DEC.5,1985 DEC.8,1985 14 DEC.1985 (Lyon, France)

In 1985, summer in Japan, and a single trip to France.

1986
JAN.9,1986 JAN.13,1986 JAN.22,1986 FEB.17,1986 FEB26,1986 MAR.18,1986 MAR.20,1986 APR.1,1986 APR.3,1986 APR.7,1986 APR.10,1986 APR.11,1986 APR.14,1986 APR.18,1986 APR.21,1986 APR.23,1986 MAY 8,1986 JUNE1,1986 28JUN.1986 9JUL.1986 10JUL.1986 14JUL.1986 3 AUG.1986 SEPT.7,1986 SEPT.10,1986 SEPT.27,1986 OCT.13,1986 OCT.16,1986 OCT.21,1986 OCT.27,1986. NOV.3,1986 NOV.7,1986 30.NOV.1986 (Berlin, Germany) 2.DEZ.1986 3.DEZ.1986 4.DEZ.1986 5.DEZ.1986 8.DEZ.1986 DEC.30,1986

In 1986, summer in Japan, and a ten-year anniversary revisit to Berlin, where, as you can see, and as you may remember from the 1980s essay, On made several Date Paintings in December.

1987
JAN.14,1987 JAN.19,1987 JAN.28,1987 FEB.10,1987 FEB.27,1987 MAR.9,1987 APR.5,1987 APR.6,1987 APR.7,1987 APR.8,1987 APR.9,1987 APR.10,1987 APR.11,1987 APR.20,1987 APR.24,1987 MAY1,1987 MAY12,1987 MAY13,1987 MAY19,1987 MAY21,1987 MAY27,1987 20JUN.1987 17JUL.1987 21JUL.1987 14 AUG.1987 SEPT.17,1987 SEPT.21,1987 SEPT.21,1987 SEPT.24,1987 OCT.4,1987 OCT.5,1987 NOV.10,1987 NOV.10,1987 NOV.18,1987 NOV.20,1987 NOV.26,1987 DEC.7,1987 DEC.8,1987 DEC.12,1987

A clear pattern. All year in New York, except summer in Japan.

1988
JAN.21,1988. JAN.26,1988. JAN.28,1988 FEB.12,1988 FEB.18,1988 FEB.29,1988 MAR.18,1988 MAR.23,1988 MAR.28,1988 MAR.31,1988 APR.1,1988 APR.2,1988 APR.5,1988 APR.11,1988 APR.14,1988 APR.19,1988 MAY3,1988 MAY11,1988. MAY12,1988 MAY14,1988 MAY15,1988 MAY20,1988
17JUN.1988 30JUN.1988. 15JUL.1988 27JUL.1988 (Sapporo, Japan) 2AUG.1988 6AUG.1988 SEPT.19,1988 SEPT.30,1988 OCT.12,1988 OCT.12,1988 OCT.22,1988 OCT.26,1988. OCT.31,1988 NOV.5,1988 NOV.17,1988 NOV.21,1988 NOV.24,1988 NOV.29,1988 DEC.25,1988 DEC.30,1988

Again, all year in New York, except summer in Japan.

1989
JAN.5,1989 16.JAN.1989 (Stuttgart, Germany) 17.JAN.1989 18.JAN.1989 19.JAN.1989. 20.JAN.1989 23.JAN.1989 24.JAN.1989. 25.JAN.1989 26.JAN.1989 27.JAN.1989 FEB.16,1989 FEB.25,1989 MAR.13,1989 MAR.21,1989 MAR.27,1989 APR.9,1989 APR.12,1989 APR.16,1989 24APR.1989 (Frankfurt, Germany) MAY 8,1989 MAY 10,1989 MAY 18,1989 10 JUN.1989 18 JUN.1989 (Nagoya, Japan) 19 JUN.1989 20 JUN.1989 21 JUN.1989 22 JUN.1989 23 JUN.1989 24 JUN.1989 14 JUL.1989 21 JUL.1989 29 JUL.1989 (Naha, Japan) 31 JUL.1989 2 AUG.1989. 5 AUG,1989 17 AUG,1989 SEPT.10,1989 SEPT.17,1989 OCT.19,1989 OCT.23,1989 OCT.29,1989 NOV.3,1989 NOV.8,1989 NOV.25,1989 NOV.29,1989 DEC.2,1989 DEC.17,1989 DEC.24,1989

Back to Germany again. First, an invitation to Date Paint in Stuttgart in January. Second, staying with Kasper König in Frankfurt in April, which was probably in connection with Kasper curating the 'Again and Against' show. Then Japan as usual for the summer.

I recall in my 1980s essay speculating that On Kawara must surely have visited Chicago for the American leg of 'Again and Against', but this summary suggests that he didn't. Throughout the summer, he remained in Japan where he regularly made Date Paintings. If On had gone to Chicago, and Date Painted there, there would have been a giveaway 'red' date in the format: month/day/year.

1990
JAN.4,1990 9 GEN.1990 10 GEN.1990 11 GEN.1990 12 GEN.1990 13 GEN.1990. (Barcelona) JAN.30,1990 FEB.15,1990. FEB.27,1990. MAR.11,1990 MAR.16,1990 APR.2,1990 APR.3,1990 APR.4,1990 APR.5,1990. APR.6,1990 (Sydney) APR.22,1990 APR.24,1990 APR.29,1990 MAY3,1990 MAY10,1990 MAY19,1990 JUNE 7,1990 JUNE 11,1990 JUNE 17,1990 6 JUL.1990 12 JUL.1990 7 AUG.1990 AUG.26,1990 (Honolulu) SEPT.9,1990 SEPT.16,1990 SEPT.22,1990 SEPT.26,1990 18 OTT.1990 20 OTT.1990 21 OTT.1990 22 OTT.1990 25 OTT.1990 26 OTT.1990 27 OTT.1990 28 OTT.1990 (Rome) 3 NOV.1990 4 NOV.1990 5 NOV.1990 11 NOV.1990 (Dijon) NOV.22,1990 NOV.30,1990 DEC.8,1990 DEC.9,1990 DEC.10,1990 DEC.13,1990 DEC.14,1990 DEC.22,1990 DEC.24,1990 DEC.27,1990

By 1990, with his children no longer infants, On was back to travelling in a big way. A politically motivated group show in Barcelona (Catalonia) in January. A trip to Sydney in connection with the fourth leg of 'Again and Against' in April. Then a short summer in Japan (plus Honolulu). In October, On had use of a studio in
Rome, where his Date Painting process was documented. And in November he went to Dijon to make Date Paintings for his friends at Le Consortium. All that is covered in detail in the 1990 essay.

I'll pause there and remind myself that this essay is primarily about On Kawara towards the end of his life, and that I have reached 2011 in the timeline. We are looking back at the history of his Date Painting from a 2011 perspective. After all, he would have taken some time to compile his two lists of dates. I wonder if he did what I'm doing and conjoined his lists. Possibly not, as his position was different from mine. He knew where he had lived and Date Painted, while I'm trying to build up that picture. He was more interested in separating the 'home' and 'away from home' pattern of his life. Home and abroad. Home and travelling.

4UIZUehiS7qwj4JSzf6c1Q_thumb_e438
Reproduced and annotated with the forbearance, I hope, of the copyright holders, and One Million Years Foundation.

What's that? Oh, yes, of course. On's monthly Date Painting in 2011 was as follows: 3, 4, 2, 3, 4, 2, 4, 4, 2, 2, 1, 2. A total of 33 Dates. Of which 4 have been reproduced in the literature, all seemingly made in New York. The document that I've been using to summarise the Date Painting in New York of those earlier years only goes up to November 2011. So the two December Dates are not on it. That is consistent with the One Hundred Years Calendar that is reproduced at the back of Date Painting in New York and 136 Other Cities.

Back to the year-by-year analysis, exhaustingly detailed though I know that is for you, dear reader:

1991
JAN.23,1991 JAN.27,1991 FEB.20,1991 6MRT.1991 (Rotterdam) 8.MARZ 1991 (Dusseldorf) MAR.22,1991 MAR.24,1991 APR.14,1991 APR.18,1991 APR.19,1991 APR.28,1991 MAY5,1991 MAY7,1991 MAY19,1991 MAY20,1991 MAY22,1991 MAY27,1991 MAY30,1991 JUNE 1,1991 JUNE 4,1991 JUNE 6,1991 JUNE 6,1991 JUNE 9,1991 JUNE 30,1991 (Singapore) 9JUL.1991 23JUL.1991 24JUL.1991 (Hiroshima) AUG.25,1991 AUG.27,1991 (Anchorage, Alaska) SEPT.23,1991 SEPT.25,1991 OCT.2,1991 (London) 10. OKT.1991 (Hamburg) OCT.19,1991 OCT.31,1991 NOV.11,1991 NOV.11,1991 NOV.17,1991 NOV.21,1991 NOV.21,1991 NOV.26,1991 NOV.28,1991 DEC.1,1991. DEC.4,1991 13 DIC.1991 14 DIC.1991 (Milan) 29 DEZ.1991 30 DEZ.1991(Wien, Austria)

A second year in a row of much travelling. But this list doesn't pick up anything that I missed in my earlier essay concerning the years '1991-1993'. So refer to that if you feel like refreshing your memory.

1992
JAN.30,1992 FEB.7,1992 FEB.23,1992 FEB.29,1992 MAR.5,1992 MAR.14,1992 MAR.20,1992 APR.10,1992 APR.19,1992 25 AVR.1992 (?) MAY22,1992 JUNE 4,1992 JUNE 12,1992 JUNE 15,1992 JUNE 24,1992 JUNE 27,1992. JULY 3,1992. JULY16,1992 23 JUL.1992 6 AUG.1992 (Tokyo) 12 AUG.1992 AUG.28,1992 (Vancouver) AUG.29,1992 SEPT.1,1992 SEPT.6,1992 SEPT.18,1992 SEPT.19,1992 SEPT.23,1992 SEPT.27,1992 OCT.2,1992 OCT.5,1992 OCT.6,1992 OCT.11,1992 OCT.15,1992 OCT.20,1992 OCT.21,1992 OCT.22,1992 OCT.23,1992 NOV.5,1992 NOV.14,1992 NOV.26,1992 6 DEZ.1992 (Aachen, Germany) 8 DEZ,1992 DEC.18,1992 DEC.22,1992 DEC.24,1992 DEC.27,1992 DEC.30,1992 (?)

I've placed question marks after the red April date and a December one. Was the first one a city in France? Was the December Date a return to Vancouver, which he visited in August, or an American city other than New York? Or even a year-end trip to London?

1993
JAN.1,1993 JAN.5,1993 JAN.6,1993 JAN.10,1993 JAN.13,1993 FEB.7,1993 FEB.14,1993 20 FEV.1993 (Paris) MAR.6,1993 MAR.13,1993 MAR.16,1993 29 MAR.1993 APR.9,1993 APR.18,1993 APR.23,1993 MAY14,1993 MAY16,1993 26 MAI,1993. 27 MAI,1993 (Bordeaux, France) 30 MAI,1993 4 JUIN 1993 JUNE16,1993 JUNE16,1993 JUNE29,1993 JULY1,1993 JULY13,1993 JULY15,1993 4 AUG.1993 6 AUG.1993 26 AUG.1993 SEPT.10,1993 SEPT.24,1993 28 SEPT.1993 2 OCT.1993 5 OCT.1993 OCT.17,1993 NOV.2,1993 NOV.21,1993 NOV.22,1993 NOV.26,1993 17. DEZ.1993 31 DEC.1993

This is the year that I thought On bought flat in Paris. Now I'm less sure, because this is a list of all the Dates he made in the year and there is no long stretch of time he could have been in Paris. August may have been Japan (not France). Mid-December was Germany (not France).

1994
JAN.8,1994 JAN.12,1994 JAN.21,1994 JAN.27,1994 FEB.6,1994 FEB.11,1994 16 FEB. 1994 21 FEB.1994 FEB.27,1994 MAR.3,1994 MAR.9,1994 MAR.10,1994 MAR.14,1994 MAR.16,1994 MAR.23,1994 APR.1,1994 12AVR.1994 25AVR.1994 16 MAY.94 (Madrid, Spain) 17MAY.94 MAY26,1994 MAY30,1994 JUNE1,1994 JUNE 3,1994 JUNE 4,1994 JUNE 7,1994 JUNE 8,1994 17JUL.1994 25JUL.1994 31JUL.1994 8AUG.1994 AUG.22,1994 5.SEPT.1994 6.SEPT.1994 10.SEPT.1994 SEPT.25,1994 OCT.1,1994 OCT.8,1994 OCT.9,1994 19OKT.1994 26OKT.1994 18NOV.1994 18NOV.1994 23NOV.1994 29NOV.1994 5.DEZ.1994 8 DEC.1994 (Lille) 8 DEC.1994 DEC.16,1994 DEC.20,1994 DEC.24,1994 DEC.28,1994

The February visit was not France and the lack of dot in the date means it's not Germany either. Perhaps Holland…The April dates (AVR.) may be France… Summer in Japan with perhaps a trip to Hong Kong or somewhere English-speaking… Early September is Germany, because of the dot…October looks like Germany but isn't, because of the absence of a dot between day and month…Then back to New York for mid-December.

There is the odd unanswered question, but I'm not letting them slow me down, I'm after principle patterns.

1995
JAN.18,1995 JAN.23,1995 JAN.27,1995
23 FEB.1995 26 FEB.1995 MAR.15,1995 27 MARS 1995 10 AVR.1995 APR.19,1995 MAY13,1995 MAY18,1995 MAY21,1995. MAY22,1995 MAY23,1995 MAY24,1995 MAY25,1995 MAY26,1995 MAY27,1995 MAY28,1995. JUNE4,1995 13 JUN.1995 18 JUN.1995 19 JUN.1995 (Toyonoka, Japan) 22 JUN.1995 JULY 3,1995 JULY 7,1995 JULY 7,1995 12AUG.1995 (Cologne) 13AUG.1995 15AUG.1995 19AUG.1995 22AUG.1995 26 AG.1995 (Reykjavic, Iceland) 27 AG.1995 3.SEPT.1995 4.SEPT.1995 5.SEPT.1995 6.SEPT.1995 7.SEPT.1995 8.SEPT.1995 9.SEPT.1995 12.SEPT.1995 14.SEPT.1995 23.SEPT.1995 25.SEPT.1995. 2.OKT.1995. (Cologne) OCT 31,1995 NOV.5,1995. NOV.14,1995 DEC.21,1995 DEC.28,1995

1995 was the year of the ambitious project in Cologne throughout most of August and September. Yes, that was a memorable time. Fancy On going off to Reykjavic in the middle of the Cologne gig! I can almost hear On chuckle as he stands contemplating the last of his German Date Painting days. More or less the last of his German Date painting days, I should say.

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Reproduced and annotated with the forbearance, I hope, of the copyright holders, and One Million Years Foundation.

1996
JAN.1,1996 JAN.26, 1996 FEB.18,1996 FEB.29,1996 MAR.17,1996 MAR.18,1996. APR.24,1996. APR. 28,1996 MAY21,1996 MAY28,1996 JUNE 17,1996. 17. JULI 1996 JULY27,1996 AUG.12, 1996 AUG.19,1996 AUG.23,1996 SEPT.3,1996 SEPT.6,1996 SEPT.8,1996. OCT.28,1996. OCT.29,1996 NOV.1,1996 NOV.3,1996 NOV.13,1996 NOV.17,1996 NOV.22,1996 NOV.23,1996 NOV.24,1996 NOV.26,1996 DEC.1,1996 DEC.3,1996 DEC.4,1996 DEC.8,1996 DEC.12,1996 DEC.12,1996 DEC.18,1996 DEC.18,1996 DEC.24,1996 DEC.30,1996 DEC.31,1996

Summer not spent in Japan. Only one Date painted away New York Date in the year. Where was he when he painted 17th of July? The dot and the 'JULI' suggests Germany. But which of his many old German friends was he visiting?

The list of Date Paintings from 1996 hardens my suspicions that On did not have a flat in Paris at this time.

1997
JAN 1,1997 JAN 2,1997 JAN 3,1997 JAN 4,1997 JAN 5,1997 JAN 6,1997 JAN 7,1997 JAN 8,1997 JAN 9,1997 JAN 10,1997 JAN 16,1997 FEB.6,1997 FEB.11,1997 FEB.19,1997 FEB.20,1997 MAR.1,1997 MAR.11,1997 MAR.18,1997 MAR.25,1997 MAR.28,1997 MAR.30,1997 APR.7,1997 APR.10,1997 APR.13,1997 APR.26,1997 APR.27,1997. MAY15,1997 MAY24,1997 MAY30,1997 MAY30,1997 JUNE 22,1997 JUNE 26,1997 JULY1,1997 JULY2,1997 JULY22,1997 AUG.11,1997 AUG.20,1997 SEPT.15,1997 SEPT.27,1997 OCT.6,1997 OCT.8,1997 OCT.13,1997 NOV.2,1997 NOV.9,1997 NOV.15,1997 DEC.18,1997 DEC.26,1997

Date Painting in New York for the first ten days of the year. Spending the whole year in New York.

Once again, summer wasn't spent in Japan. That phase of life seems finished with, now that the children are 17 and 18.

1998
JAN.18,1998 JAN.24,1998 FEB.16,1998 FEB.21,1998 MAR.12,1998 MAR.22,1998 MAR.23,1998 APR.11,1998 APR.12,1998. APR.19,1998 MAY10,1998 MAY17,1998 JUNE3,1998 JUNE5,1998 JUNE29,1998 JULY1,1998 JULY6,1998 JULY12,1998 JULY13,1998 JULY14,1998 JULY15,1998 JULY16,1998 JULY17,1998 JULY18,1998. AUG.1,1998 AUG.2,1998 AUG.3,1998 AUG.4,1998 AUG.23,1998 AUG.23,1998. AUG.29,1998 SEPT.2,1998 SEPT.7,1998
23. OKT.1998 26 OKT.1998 17 NOV.1998 19 NOV.1998. 7 DEC.1998 21 DEC.1998

Date Painting in New York for seven days in a row in July.

A trip to Europe in November/December, first to Germany then maybe Netherlands, then to France or Japan, I'm not sure which. November and December can be tricky months, they are abbreviated the same way in French, German, English and Esperanto, amongst other languages.

1999
7JAN.1999 (Manila, Philippines) 8JAN.1999 24JAN.1999 6FEB.1999 FEB.27,1999 MAR.7,1999 MAR.17,1999 MAR.21,1999 APR.1,1999 APR.1,1999 APR.13,1999 APR.19,1999 APR.30,1999 MAY13,1999 MAY18,1999 20JUNI1999 (Zurich) 4JUIL.1999 (probably Paris) JULY24,1999 JULY25,1999 AUG.1,1999 AUG.2,1999 AUG.3,1999 AUG.4,1999 AUG.5,1999 AUG.6,1999 AUG.7,1999 AUG.8,1999 AUG.12,1999 AUG.19,1999 AUG.24,1999 AUG.31,1999. SEPT.1,1999 SEPT.4,1999. SEPT.6,1999 SEPT.11,1999 OCT.10,1999 OCT.11,1999 OCT.16,1999 15 NOV.1999 2 DEC.1999 DEC.7,1999 DEC.8,1999 (New Delhi) 29DEC.1999 30 DEC.1999 (Fugonimija)

Aside from trip to the Philippines, the stay in France/Japan continues, with Japan the more likely given the 'FEB' of February.

Date Painting in New York for eight days in a row from Aug.1. I would suggest that having summers in New York instead of Tokyo revitalised On Kawara's Date Painting practice.

A December trip to the Far East. Have On and Hiroko switched their annual Japanese time from summer to winter?

2000
8 JAN.2000 9 JAN.2000 (Taipei, Taiwan) 26JAN.2000 12FEB.2000 FEB.26,2000 FEB.27,2000 MAR.4,2000 MAR.5,2000 MAR.12,2000 MAR.30,2000 APR.1,2000 APR.1,2000 APR.16,2000 3MAI,2000 4MAI,2000 10MAI,2000 11MAI,2000 17MAI,2000. 18MAI,2000 31MAI,2000 (Abidjan, Ivory Coast) 2JUIN 2000 JUNE 21,2000 JUNE 28,2000. JULY6,2000 JULY12,2000 JULY14,2000 JULY16,2000 AUG.22,2000 AUG.24,2000 SEPT.8,2000 SEPT.18,2000 SEPT.25,2000 OCT.10,2000 OCT.12,2000 OCT.13,2000 10 NOV.2000 12 NOV.2000 14 NOV.2000 16 NOV.2000 18 NOV.2000 27 NOV.2000 12 DEC.2000 21 DEC.2000 30 DEC.2000

The Far East trip goes on until early February.

May in Paris. November and December in Paris or Japan. This time he goes straight from Paris /Tokyo back to NewYork before February, 2001, so I can't tell where On has wintered.

2001
6 JAN.2001 18 JAN.2001 21 JAN.2001 FEB.22,2001. FEB.25,2001. FEB.28,2001 MAR.2,2001 MAR.5,2001 MAR.15,2001 MAR.21,2001 MAR.30,2001 APR.10,2001 APR.13,2001 APR.16,2001 APR.18,2001 MAY16,2001 MAY19,2001 26 MAI.2001 30 MAI.2001 3. JUNI,2001 4.JUNI,2001 (Stuttgart, Germany) JUNE12,2001 (Birmingham, England) JUNE29,2001 JULY1,2001 JULY2,2001 JULY3,2001 JULY4,2001 JULY5,2001 JULY6,2001 JULY7,2001 JULY8,2001 JULY17,2001 JULY18,2001 JULY27,2001 JULY31,2001 AUG.7,2001 AUG.11,2001 AUG.14,2001 (?) AUG.19,2001 AUG.31,2001 SEPT.13,2001 SEPT.19,2001 27 SEPT.2001 28 SEPT. 2001 29 SEPT. 2001 6 OKT. 2001 (Amsterdam) 9 OKT. 2001 1 NOV.2001 12 NOV.2001 14 NOV.2001 27 NOV.2001 6 DEC.2001 20 DEC.2001 21 DEC.2001

Late May in Paris, Paris in the spring. An August day in America or Canada? September/October in Amsterdam? November and December in Paris or Japan?

On was Date Painting in New York for eight days in a row from July 1. New York was still where On Kawara embarked on his most ambitious projects. Perhaps it always had been, apart from certain German initiatives.

2002
8 JAN.2002
JAN.31, 2002 FEB.3,2002 FEB.24,2002 FEB.27,2002 MAR.1,2002 MAR.10,2002 MAR.31,2002 APR.4,2002 APR.7,2002 APR.10,2002 APR.19,2002 APR.23,2002 APR.29,2002 24 MAJ.2002 26MAJ.2002 30MAJ.2002 (not France or Germany. Could be Esperanto or Danish) JUNE1,2002 JUNE30,2002 JULY6,2002 JULY9,2002. JULY17,2002 JULY23,2002 (Margaree, Canada) JULY31,2002 AUG.4,2002 AUG.13,2002 AUG.14,2002 AUG.19,2002 AUG.25,2002 AUG.26,2002. AUG.30,2002 SEPT.5,2002 SEPT.17,2002 SEPT.25,2002 SEPT.29,2002 OCT.16,2002 OCT.23,2002 OCT.286,2002. NOV.1,2002 19NOV.2002 6DEC.2002 17DEC.2002

I imagine that mystery location in August, 2001, was Margaree. Having stopped going to Japan in the summer, On and Hiroko were free to fish for salmon in Nova Scotia again.

The end of the year spent in Paris or Japan. With the FEB. start of 2003 suggesting it was Japan.


2003
14JAN.2003. 18 JAN.2003 3 FEB.2003 FEB.18,2003 FEB.27,2003 MAR.9,2003 MAR.21,2003 APR.1,2003 APR.28,2003 MAY 1,2003 MAY 2,2003 MAY 3,2003 MAY 4,2003 MAY 5,2003 MAY 6,2003 MAY 7,2003 MAY 8,2003 MAY 28,2003 JUNE 13,2003 JUNE 25,2003 JULY 5,2003 JULY 18,2003 JULY 21,2003 AUG. 13,2003 AUG.19,2003 AUG.22,2003 AUG.28,2003 SEPT.9,2003 SEPT.14,2003 SEPT.17,2003 OCT.9,2003 OCT.22,2003 21 NOV.2003. 27 NOV.2003 18 DEC.2003 25 DEC.2003

A strong but ambiguous pattern. Each Date Painting made in New York, or Paris/Japan in the winter, with a sequence of eight Date Paintings made in New York from May 1. Let On Kawara, circa 2011, celebrate the year of 2003, when he had only just turned 70.

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Reproduced and annotated with the forbearance, I hope, of the copyright holders, and One Million Years Foundation.


2004
10 JAN.200417 JAN.2004 6 FEB.2004 16FEB.2004
MAR.8,2004 MAR.21,2004 APR.16,2004 APR.19,2004 APR.21,2004 APR.27,2004 MAY 9,2004 26MAI,2004 JUNE10,1994 JUNE14,1994 JUNE16,1994 JUNE17,1994 JUNE30,1994 JULY 3,2004 JULY 5,2004 JULY 7,2004 JULY 9,2004 JULY 11,2004 JULY 14,2004 JULY 16,2004 JULY 27,2004 AUG.22,2004 AUG.25,2004 SEPT.1,2004 SEPT.4,2004 SEPT.16,2004 (Fort Worth, USA) 29SEPT.2004 2OCT.2004 3OCT.2004 (Lourdes, France) 16OCT.2004 17OCT.2004 (Bastia, Corsica) 22OCT.2004 (Limoges, France) 8 NOV.2004 18 NOV.2004 7 DEC.2004. 10 DEC.2004 (Bangkok, Thailand) DEC.14,2004. DEC.16. 2004 (Calcutta)

The beginning of the year was spent in Paris/Tokyo, with FEB. suggesting the latter. Then New York. Then over to Paris for the end of May. Then back to New York. Then a trip to Fort Worth in September. Then travel in Europe in October followed by some travel in the Far East at the end of the year. But back to Japan for Xmas I would say, judging by FEB. 2005…

2005
2 JAN.2005 6 JAN.2005. 25 JAN.2005 8 FEB.2005 14 FEB.2005 MAR.14,2005 MAR.19,2005 MAR.30,2005 APR.1,2005 APR.6,2005 APR.18,2005 APR.25,2005 9 MAI,2005 (Auray, France) 11 MAI,2005 22 MAI,2005 23 MAI,2005 (Porto, Portugal) 25 MAI,2005 (Lisbon) 29 MAI,2005 (Paris) JUNE 9,2005 JUNE 14,2005 JUNE 17,2005 JULY9,2005 JULY13,2005 JULY24,2005 JULY28,2005 AUG.1,2005 AUG.2,2005 AUG.3,2005 AUG.8,2005 AUG.13,2005 AUG.21,2005 AUG.25,2005 SEPT.1,2005 SEPT.2,2005 SEPT.3,2005 SEPT.18,2005 SEPT.27,2005 OCT.6,2005 OCT.14,2005 OCT.22,2005 OCT.26,2005 NOV.1,2005 NOV.3,2005 NOV.3,2005 NOV.6,2005 3 DEC.2005 7 DEC.2005 17 DEC.2005 25 DEC.2005

On began 2005 in Japan. Then went to New York for March and April. Back to France for May. Summer in New York, autumn too. Then back to Paris or, more likely, Tokyo, for December. Seasons spent in different continents: America, Europe and the Far East. The artist aged 72.

2006
2 JAN.2006 11 JAN.2006 25 JAN.2006 5 FEB.2006 (another city in Japan) 10 FEB.2006 (Shimantogawa, Japan) 14 FEB.2006 19 FEB.2006 22 FEB.2006 (Sendai, Japan) MAR.24,2006 MAR.28,2006 APR.6,2006 APR.11,2006 APR.21,2006 APR.27,2006. MAY16,2006 MAY,19,2006 5JUIN,2006 13JUIN,2006 (Monte Carlo, France) 22JUIN,2006 (Vagnes, France) 9 JUIL.2006 18 JUIL.2006 21. JULI.2006 (Munster, Germany) 27 JUIL.2006 3 AOUT 2006 4 AOUT 2006 (Vaucluse, France) 20 AOUT 2006 SEPT.11,2006 SEPT.27,2006 OCT.8,2006 OCT.25,2006 NOV.3,2006 NOV.8,2006 DEC.7,2006 DEC.7,2006 DEC.8,2006 DEC.12,2006 DEC.24,2006 DEC.25,2006

In 2006, On spent little longer in Japan at the start of the year, exploring various cities. He pushed his New York stay back by a month, delaying his arrival in France until June. Summer in Europe. Back to New York for the rest of the year. Aged 73.


2007
JAN. 1, 2007 JAN.2, 2007 JAN.18, 2007 22 ENE. 2007 23 ENE. 2007 (San Jose, Costa Rica ) FEB.8, 2007 FEB. 17, 2007 MAR.8, 2007 MAR.12, 2007 APR.2, 2007 APR.23, 2007 APR.29, 2007 MAY 1,2007 31MAI 2007 7JUIN,2007 17 JUIN,2007 21JUNI,2007 22JUNI,2007 (Antwerp, Belgium) 5JUIL,2007 JULY15,2007 (Manchester, UK) JULY17,2007 (Glasgow, UK) JULY19,2007 (Edinburgh, UK) 2 AOUT 2007 9 AGO.2007 10 AGO.2007 (Andorra, Spain) AUG. 27, 2007 SEPT.11,2007 SEPT.22,2007 SEPT.23,2007 (Salt Lake City, USA) OCT.12, 2007 OCT.23,2007 OCT.24,2007 (Hartford, USA) NOV.9,2007 NOV.11,2007 NOV.14,2007 NOV.21,2007 DEC.7,2007 DEC.10,2007 DEC.19,2007 DEC.25,2007 DEC.25,2007

2007 began in New York and continued with a trip to Costa Rica. Then back to New York before flying to Paris in May. A European Summer, including a tour of the UK, before returning to New York at the end of August. A couple of trips to cities at either end of the United States before the end of the year.

While all this data is at my finger tips, let me (if I may be so bold) set out a Date Painting history of On's time in France. Each city tends to be mentioned only once, as that is how the
89 Cities and 136 Other Cities books were set up to record things, being silent about subsequent visits to the cities in question.

14 DEC.1985 (Lyon)
11 NOV.1990 (Dijon)
25 AVR.1992
20 FEV.1993 (Paris) 26 MAI,1993 (Bordeaux) 27 MAI,1993 30 MAI,1993 4 JUIN 1993
12AVR.1994 25AVR.1994 8 DEC.1994 (Lille) 8 DEC.1994
27 MARS 1995 10 AVR.1995

At this point, there is a gap of three years. On Kawara painted no Dates in France in 1996, 1997 or 1998. Did he own a flat in Paris by this time? Hard to say. He could easily have spent those few days in a hotel. Maybe he bought a flat there and didn't use it that much. He had a gallerist in Paris, Yves Lambert, And he was friends with the restauranteur, Roger Mazarguil, And his Date Paintings had been shown en masse at the Pompidou Centre. So one can see why he chose to have a third home in this city. And I get the impression that the links with his German contacts were not as strong by this stage in his life, though Kasper König was still to curate the horizontality/verticality show in 2000.

4JUIL.1999
3MAI,2000 4MAI,2000 10MAI,2000 11MAI,2000 17MAI,2000. 18MAI,2000 (Note: Could be the French territory of Ivory Coast which he visited at end of May, but I doubt if he would have gone there for so long.)
26 MAI.2001 30 MAI.2001

Two year gap. No visits to France in this time.

26MAI,2004 29SEPT.2004 2OCT.2004 3OCT.2004 (Lourdes) 22OCT.2004 (Limoges)
9 MAI,2005 (Auray) 11 MAI,2005
29 MAI,2005 (Paris) (Note: That's a second mention of Paris, because it crops up in the Candida Hofer book.)
5JUIN,2006 13JUIN,2006 (Monte Carlo) 22JUIN,2006 (Vagnes) 9 JUIL.2006 18 JUIL.2006 20 AOUT 2006
31MAI 2007 7JUIN,2007 17 JUIN,2007 5JUIL,2007 2 AOUT 2007

Could one of these days be the last Date that On painted in his Paris flat? I've checked ahead and reckon it is. I reckon that his last Date Painting made in Paris was one of these:

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Reproduced and annotated with the forbearance, I hope, of the copyright holders, and One Million Years Foundation.


Back to the main listing of dates! Back to New York and maybe the odd trip to Japan…

2008
JAN.9,2008 JAN.14,2008 19 FEB. 2008 21 FEB. 2008 27 FEB. 2008 MAR.28,2008 MAR.31,2008 APR.12,2008 MAY29,2008 MAY31,2008 JUNE 2,2008 JUNE 17,2008 JUNE 21,2008 JULY 2,2008 JULY 4, 2008 JULY 29,2008 AUG.2,2008 AUG.9, 2008 AUG.16, 2008 SEPT.9,2008 SEPT.21, 2008 OCT.21, 2008 OCT.25,2008 NOV.4, 2008 NOV.7, 2008 NOV.14, 2008 DEC.5,2008

He didn't visit France this year. Those February dates are probably Tokyo.

2009
JAN. 15, 2009 FEB. 2, 2009 FEB. 11, 2009 FEB. 18, 2009 19 MAR. 2009 APR.16, 2009 APR.17, 2009 APR.27, 2009 MAY 2, 2009 MAY 5, 2009 MAY 8, 2009 MAY 11, 2009 MAY 18, 2009 MAY 21, 2009 MAY 28,2009 JUNE 9, 2009 JUNE 25, 2009 JULY 6, 2009 JULY 14, 2009 JULY 14, 2009 AUG. 8, 2009 AUG. 14, 2009 AUG. 21, 2009 SEPT.1,2009 SEPT.9, 2009 SEPT.22, 2009 OCT.7, 2009 OCT.14, 2009 NOV.9, 2007 NOV.13, 2009 NOV.16,2009 NOV.26,2009 DEC.2, 2009 DEC.7, 2009 DEC.18, 2009

One day stands out. The only Date Painting not made in New York in 2009. The last Date Painting ever to be painted outside New York. Where though?
The abbreviation for March in French is 'MARS', so it's definitely not Paris. Let's celebrate the Date's existence, its biographical importance, though I've not seen it reproduced anywhere.

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Reproduced and annotated with the forbearance, I hope, of the copyright holders, and One Million Years Foundation.

What is On Kawara gazing at, internally? Mount Fuji? For the final time?


2010
JAN. 27, 2010 FEB. 3, 2010 FEB. 8, 2010 FEB. 11, 2010 MAR.3, 2010 MAR.9, 2010 MAR.13, 2010 MAR.26, 2010 APR.1, 2010 APR.3, 2010 APR.27, 2010 APR.30, 2010 MAY 3, 2010 MAY 11, 2010 MAY 17, 2010 MAY 25, 2010 JUNE 6, 2010 JULY 18, 2010 JULY 24, 2010 JULY 25, 2010 AUG. 8, 2010 AUG. 11, 2010 AUG. 14, 2010 SEPT.4, 2010 SEPT.7, 2010 OCT.4, 2010 OCT.7, 2010 NOV.8, 2010 NOV.23, 2010 DEC.3, 2010 DEC.12, 2010 DEC.15, 2010 DEC.19, 2010

Confined to New York all 2010. With the energy and pain-free time to paint consecutive days just once.

2011
JAN. 7, 2011 JAN. 11, 2011 JAN. 14, 2011 FEB. 3, 2011 FEB. 14, 2011 FEB. 17, 2011 FEB. 22, 2011 MAR.12, 2011 MAR.25, 2011 APR.4, 2011 APR.7, 2011 APR.20, 2011 APR.29, 2011 MAY 3, 2011 MAY 6, 2011 MAY 8, 2011 MAY 19, 2011 JUNE 6, 2011 JUNE 13, 2011 JULY 1, 2011 JULY 8, 2011 JULY 12, 2011 JULY 26, 2011 AUG. 6, 2011 AUG. 13, 2011 AUG. 20, 2011 AUG. 29, 2011 SEPT.4, 2011 SEPT.7, 2011 OCT.12, 2011 OCT.16, 2011 NOV.24, 2011,

Confined to New York all 2011. Still a Date Painter. But consecutive days are too much for him. One day at a time is the new rule, surrounded by down time.

So back to this book that On must have been working on intermittently during 2011. As you can see, there are four items on the Contents' page between the two sections that include reproductions (and lists) of Date Paintings:

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Reproduced with the forbearance, I hope, of the copyright holders, David Zwirner and One Million Years Foundation.

I want to say something about each of these four items, as clearly they were chosen by On Kawara. Or if not chosen by On, approved by him. Just as the photo of himself at the beginning of the book must have been approved by him.

The essay by Lucas Zwirner, 'Seeing to Speaking', is a philosophical piece about language. It begins with a parable about a man who travels to visit the temple and statue of Truth. To begin with he can't understand anything Truth says. After years of study, learning Truth's language and abandoning the language he was brought up with, he finally
can understand Truth. But when the man returns to his people and opens his mouth to speak, it sounds to them like he is singing an incomprehensible song. Lucas suggests that: 'Truth is a private affair that we are constantly trying to make public… How do we transport the certainty we discover in our private thinking into a medium where it can be assessed by others without losing the power and veracity it had when we discovered it?'

Also ambitious is the essay: 'On Kawara's Gravitational Body, or the Confinement of Space-Time and the Liberation of Consciousness'. It was written by Lei Yamabe (which in Japanese means 'cold mountaintop', whereas On Kawara apparently means 'warm waterside') in 2009, and then translated specially for the 2012 book. The essay deals with the fact that there are no photos of On Kawara and no statements by him. Of course, there is the occasional oblique photo of On Kawara. And he did make the odd statement, such as 'The paintings were made on the dates that are painted on them'. And the sub-title for
DEC.21,1966 reveals: 'This afternoon Henry Geldzahler asked me in his apartment what I do every day. I said "I don't know what I do but I know that I collect dates; that is painted canvases on which the dates are written by me."'

"Why have you done this? What does it mean?" Those are the questions that On Kawara would not answer. The work had to 'speak' for itself. Though he had no objection to others singing its praises, providing they were suitably qualified in terms of insight.

The third piece (placed first in the book) is
Code, "Voice from the Moon". Which wasn't in the exhibition but is part of the accompanying volume. This piece is dated 2011, even though it's a transcription of the voices of the Apollo 11 astronauts and NASA, Houston, from July, 1969. Here is the first page of nine:

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Reproduced with the forbearance, I hope, of One Million Years Foundation.

And here is my translation, which was arrived at in GAME ON (3):

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Reproduced and annotated with the forbearance, I hope, of One Million Years Foundation.


Which leads me to the fourth of the David Zwirner volume's 'essays'. It's a chapter taken from a book which was published in 2008 called
The Way of the Explorer, written by Edgar Mitchell. Now this author had been an astronaut, and when coming back from the Moon on which he'd walked in 1971, as part of the Apollo 14 mission, he went through an epiphany. As he puts it: 'The private experience of expansiveness that I had felt during our return from the moon… had to be something more than could be explained by mere elevated emotion.'

Edgar Mitchell, ex-astronaut, did a lot of psychic and mystical research, and came across the book
Cosmic Consciousness by R.M. Bucke, which he found inspirational. The phrase 'Cosmic Consciousness' was important to On Kawara as well, featuring in the subtitle of the 2006 Date Painting that was acquired by the Dallas Museum of Art and which featured in the 2008 show, 10 Tableaux and 16,952 Pages. The subtitle of 5 FEB. 2006 being 'To view the earth with cosmic consciousness', which was written in Esperanto, as On was painting in Japan that day.

Back to
The Way of the Explorer, or at least the chapter reproduced in Date Painting in New York and 136 Other Cities. 'The idea of an epiphany can be viewed as an abrupt organisation, or reorganisation, of information in a way that produces new insight at the level of conscious awareness.' And that's what occurred to Edgar Mitchell on his return flight from the moon. The healing of a duality, as he puts it. He achieved nothing less than 'a sense of inner peace and well-being, but also an unshakeable feeling of immortality, accompanied by joy.'

Yes, well, an unshakeable feeling of immortality would put the 'j' into joy.

'The ecstasy I experienced was somehow a natural response of my body to the overwhelming sense of unity I received. I saw how my very existence was irrevocably connected with the movement and formation of planets, stars, galaxies - the ineluctable result of the explosion of an immensely hot and dense dot at the centre of the universe billions of years ago.'

There is no question that On Kawara could relate to this. He could see that being an astronaut would be likely to bring on cosmic consciousness, something that he was able to attain without leaving his studio. As early as 1966, the largest Date Painting On Kawara made in the calendar year was this one, as I discuss in
GAME ON (1):

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Reproduced and annotated with the forbearance, I hope, of the copyright holders, David Zwirmer and One Million Years Foundation.


The subtitle of the size 'F' date was 'GEMINI 10'. And three days later a size 'E' date was painted, with the sub-title: "The Gemini capsule in which John Young and Mike Collins had soared to 474 miles during 70 hours splashed down into the Atlantic Ocean at 5.07P.M. today before the eyes of millions of T.V. viewers in the U.S.A."

Subsequent Gemini missions were mentioned in Date Painting subtitles, as were the Apollo missions, culminating in the three giant paintings made over five days of July, 1969, commemorating the first moon walk made by Apollo 11 astronauts. We know all about those.

Apollo 12, which landed on the moon in November of 1969 was mentioned in five subtitles. Indeed on NOV.19, 1969 On Kawara (I've just noticed) made three Date Paintings, one of size 'B' and two of size 'C'. The titles and subtitles read:

NOV.19, 1969
"The two moon-landing astronauts of Apollo 12, Comdr.Charles Conrad Jr. and Comdr. Alan L. Bean of the Navy took two long walks outside their spacecraft, the Intrepid, which was standing near the rocky rim of a crater on the Ocean of Storms."

NOV.19, 1969
"CONRAD (6.45 A.M.) — '…I'm going to step off the pad. Right. Up. Oh, is that soft. Hey, that's neat. I don't sink in too far. I'll try a little—boy, that sun's bright. That's just like somebody shining a spotlight in your hands. I can walk pretty well, Al, but I've got to take it easy and watch what I'm doing. Boy, you'll never believe it! Guess what I see sitting on the side of the crater. The old Surveyor!'"

NOV.19, 1969
"In SNAP 27 the heat produced by a radioactive isotope will make electricity. This will be carried through wires to power the array of scientific instruments that will be left on the lunar surface."

In other words, another special effort was made by the artist. On Kawara had never before made three Date Paintings in the one day. So a significant lunar triptych of Date Paintings exists over and above the three giant paintings to be found at Glenstone.

The near-disaster of Apollo 13 was marked by two Date Paintings, April 15 and April 17, 1970. But Apollo 14, through which Edgar Mitchell became the sixth man to walk on the moon, was not commemorated with a Date Painting at all. On February 5, 1971, when the Apollo 14 moon walk took place, On Kawara may have been travelling from Honolulu to New York. He had made a Date Painting there on January 29, and the first Date Painting made back in New York was not made until February 16. On was not able to Date Paint when flying in a plane. Nor when he had jet lag. Even cosmic consciousness has its limits. If On Kawara did Edgar Mitchell a disservice in 1971, he was making up for that in 2011 by including the man's post-Moon writing in his own book.

Simple consciousness, that's what animals have. Self-consciousness, that's what human beings have. Cosmic consciousness, that's what a few people attain in their lifetime. On Kawara had cosmic consciousness. When he painted a Date Painting, he was aware that he was inextricably linked to a universe that went on forever in all directions. He didn't want to let go of that visionary (yet non-visual) feeling. And he wanted to get back to it as often as he could.

Never mind love or death, those obsessions of the self-conscious. Having cosmic consciousness was what mattered. Besides, there is no death, only life. How many days do you have to sit there Date Painting before that hard-won insight becomes second nature?

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Reproduced and annotated with the forbearance, I hope, of the copyright holders, and One Million Years Foundation.


I still can't throw off the impression that On is leaning on that rail, smoking. We know that smoking has a bad press, but the taking of air deep down into the lungs, that must be one of the easiest ways of connecting with the universe. In goes the breath, rich with oxygen and tobacco, out goes the breath, full of carbon dioxide. In… out… An integral part of the universe… Lovely. Is there a brand of cigarettes called Cosmic Consciousness? If there isn't, there should be.

On often said that 'two' is the key number in Japanese philosophy, not one. I guess the counterbalance to cosmic consciousness is self-consciousness. Which means, to retain a perfect balance, to achieve a harmonious whole, I have to end the essay this way:

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Reproduced and annotated with the forbearance, I hope, of the copyright holders, and One Million Years Foundation.


Oh, those 'J' words: JULY, JOY, JUST.




TWO (2)

Having made use of the image of On Kawara nine times now, I need to say more about it, in part to justify using it so repeatedly.

The essay in the
Date Painting in New York and 136 Other Cities book by Lei Yamabe, which I referred to briefly above, focuses on the physical body, fragile and transient, in the work of On Kawara. Specifically, it talks about the mutilated bodies that appear in On Kawara's 'Bathroom' paintings from the 1950s, made before he left Japan, and supposes that it is space - its inherent plasticity as understood by Einstein's theory of general relativity - that has cut and mutilated the bodies. He contrasts this with post-1966 work where the danger to the body, this time exclusively On Kawara's body, is from TIME.

Lei Yamabe writes in a fascinating way about quantum mechanics, in which On Kawara was indeed interested, and understands the Date Paintings to be evidence of On Kawara's bodily existence. On Kawara had to be alive to paint a picture on a certain date. After that it cannot be said whether On Kawara is alive or dead. Then along comes another Date Painting so Lei can relax: the painter still lives! Lei Yamabe makes the analogy with an electron, behaving like a wave function, which cannot be directly observed, and needs a bubble chamber to show its route. Date Paintings are understood to be "bubbles" of the artist's bodily activity. Does that make sense? Up to a point. But analogies are rarely perfect parallels.

Is it an understanding of quantum mechanics that decided On Kawara would not let himself be photographed? Well, he has let himself be photographed. There is actual evidence of the living body of On Kawara at the beginning of the catalogue that I've made such extensive use of in this essay. There is also a shot of On Kawara - from the back - in the 2002 catalogue that Phaidon published, and another in the
SILENCE catalogue that was published in 2015.

I suspect these rear views were included because they do give evidence of On Kawara being alive, while withholding the face in which so much of an individual's mood and personality, race and age, can be read. On did not want his audience to be distracted by the vagaries of these. In all his work, it is his 'being aliveness' - his consciousness pure and simple - that is emphasised, with no detail on what he thinks or feels about anything. True, one can read something into his character by the items that he reads in the newspapers, by the choice of people he meets, and by the choice of places he visits. And that may be one reason why he abandoned several of those sub-projects in 1979. He was giving too much away. The Date Paintings are the most sublime distillation of his art.

It should be remembered that from 1971 and the show of emerging international artists at the Guggenheim, On avoided the openings of his own work. I imagine he avoided all openings from then on, because at those events it is impossible to get away from career-orientated chit-chat. It is hard to avoid self-expression and self-advertisement, not to mention photographers. On Kawara didn't want to be tempted into such discourse. He didn't want to be distracted from dwelling on the fact of his continued existence.

Which is why, in this account, although I do speculate conservatively about On Kawara's personality, and I do discreetly investigate aspects of his biography, I do focus on, and make myself keep coming back to, his awe-inspiring work. I mean the astonishing fact that he - that any of us - was alive for such and such a time.

Did I say that the Date Paintings were the most sublime distillation of On Kawara's art? They are indeed. And then On goes and spoils it all by giving clues as to where he was on the planet, whether New York, Paris or Tokyo, for instance. Space as well as time! Less is more, On. Did no-one ever tell you that?

Only joking, of course. On Kawara knew that less is more. He knew that less is more and least is most. And the least you can expect is to be gently reminded, in a concise line of letters, numbers and symbols, that both space and time are cultural constructs.



TWO (3)

I thought I would leave it there, but find that I can't.

You see I realised it should be possible to work out exactly where on the planet On was when the photo of his back view was taken. And so it proved. It took me about thirty seconds to establish the location. Only that wasn't quite right, I realised after a while, because there was one building in the Google view that wasn't in the black and white photo. And so I looked again, and realised that On was standing a few hundred yards further north than I'd first thought. Here, in fact:

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The Google camera took this photo in July 2014, which is to say in the month following On's death.

The photo was taken from just north of the Hudson River Greenway. In other words, in the b/w photo from 2011, there is a sports stadium just out of shot to the artist's left. On Kawara was standing on Manhattan Island, not too far from his home on Greene Street looking over the Hudson River towards New Jersey. The skyscrapers to the left of On's cap are of Newport, while the bridge to the right of his cap is part of Hoboken Path Rail Station. On the map below, the red dots indicate On's house on Greene Street (near the right edge of the image) and where On stood and looked across his river.

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But I need to get back to the Street View. I can't get enough of it. The high-rise towers, the glistening river, the glowing sky.

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On Kawara is still very much alive in my mind.

Which is another way of saying this:

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The next essay will be the last chapter.



OUTRO

As I approach the end of this project, I need to lay down a few avenues that I might be able to walk down once On Kawara's fascinating life story can no longer be further seamed.

Accordingly, let me tell you, dear reader, about MAY 31, 2022. The telling comes in the form of an email to my most recent airbnb guest, and was sent on May 31, 2022.

Hi Danielle,

So I went up the local hill, called Knockie, which is hard left outside the house and keep walking uphill for twenty minutes…

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I have taken this photo many times before, but on different days.

Usually, I also do this photo, which I put together with the day’s date when I get back to the house…

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A typical Scottish landscape! Today it looks so dark. Darker than any of the equivalent shots I’ve taken this winter, even though we are on the absolute edge of summer. At least the trees are in leaf now, so the scene could be seen as one of optimistic growth too.

I must end with this photo of you in the conservatory, which you kindly allowed me to take earlier today. You look so composed and serene, in what is in someways a very classical composition. Artist and his model? I love the idea of Van Gogh going to work in the background, though that is egotistical of me. My clothes brought in from the rain and drying on the backs of the chairs is perhaps an incongruous detail that I’m only noticing now.

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As I write this, you are dining in Little’s Fish Restaurant aka Blairgowrie and Rattray Church. I hope you are enjoying the evening of May 31, 2022. The likes of which neither of us, or our fellow diners, will ever see again.

Ah, but there’s always tomorrow. And the motorbike to take you on to the next stage of your fabulous journey.

See you later,

Duncan