Widely acknowledged as one of the world's most beautiful buildings, the 17th century Imperial Villa at Katsura, near Kyoto in Japan, has exerted a powerful influence on many architects and artists, attracted by its sense of harmony and timeless elegance.
Dan Fern's latest collection of images is largely inspired by Katsura, which has fascinated him since first visiting Japan in the 1980's. 'The buildings at Katsura, and the gardens which surround them, seem to me to represent an ideal of proportion, colour and texture assembled with perfect judgement and spartan restraint' he wrote in a lecture.
In a project which has taken him away temporarily from his usual subject matter - landscape and the natural world - Fern also takes the opportunity to explore and sometimes reference the relationship between the formal rigour of Katsura and the work of modernist and minimalist artists he admires, some of whom were in turn fascinated by traditional Japanese art and architecture: Piet Mondrian and others in the de Stijl movement during the 1930's, and architects such as Le Corbusier, Kenzo Tange and Tadao Ando. The great modernist architect Walter Gropius wrote of Katsura: 'The aesthetic effect is a pure, architectonic one, achieved by simple contrasts of bright and dark, smooth and rough and by juxtapositions of plain squares, rectangles and stripes.'
Dan Fern is an award-winning graphic and mulimedia artist and an influential teacher. He has exhibited his work at the Museum of Modern Art in Kyoto, the Joan Miro Foundation in Barcelona, the Smithsonian Institute in New York, Tate North in Liverpool and the Centre Pompidou in Paris, as well as being in the permanent collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. A former Head of the School of Communications at London's Royal College of Art, Dan Fern is now an Emeritus Professor at the RCA, and retains his links with education as a PhD supervisor, lecturer and project manager.