Sanshiro did as he was told. Mineko lowered the fan and broke her pose. She turned to look through the window at the garden.
‘‘No, you can’t move now. I’ve just started.’’
‘‘Why did you have to say that?’’
She faced from again.
Haraguchi explained, ‘‘I’m not making fun of you. I have something to tell Ogawa.’’
‘‘What is it?’’
‘‘Just listen. Come, stand the way you were. That’s it. Elbow a little more this way. Now, as I was saying, Ogawa, do you think the eyes I’ve painted have the same expression as our actual model’s here?’’
‘‘I don’t know, really. But when you paint someone like this over a long period of time, do the eyes keep the same expression day after day?’’
‘‘No, they change, of course. And it’s not just the model. The painter’s mood changes every day, too. There really ought to be several portraits when you’re through, but we can’t have that. The strange thing is that you end up with one fairly coherent painting. Think about it.’’
Haraguchi was manipulating the brush all the while he talked. He kept looking at Mineko, too. Sanshiro witnessed in awe this simultaneous functioning of Haraguchi’s faculties.
When I work on a painting day after day like this, each day’s work accumulates, and soon the picture takes on a certain mood. So even if I come back from someplace in a different mood, once I walk into the studio and face the picture, I can get right into it because the mood of the picture takes over. The same thing happens to Mineko. If you just leave her to be her natural self, different stimuli are bound to give her different expressions. But the reason this has no great effect on the painting is that her pose, say, and the clutter in here－the drum, the armor, the tiger skin－naturally come to draw out one particular expression, and the habit of it becomes strong enough after a while to suppress any other expression, so that I can fairly well go on painting the look in the eyes as is. Now, I keep using the word ‘expression’ but－’’
Haraguchi suddenly broke off. He seemed to have come to something difficult. He took two steps back started intently comparing Mineko and picture.
‘‘Mineko, is something wrong?’’
It was inconceivable that this answer had come from her mouth, she kept her pose unbroken with such perfect stillness.
‘‘I keep using the word ‘expression’ ’’ Haraguchi went on, ‘‘but an artist doesn’t paint what’s inside, he doesn’t paint the heart. He paints what the heart puts on display. As long as he observes everything in the display case, he can tell what’s locked up in the safe. Or we can assume that much, I suppose. A painter has to resign himself to the fact that anything he can’t see on display is beyond the scope of his responsibility. That’s why we paint only the flesh.
Whatever flesh an artist paints, if it hasn’t got the spirit in it, it’s dead, it simply has no validity as a painting.
Now take Mineko’s eyes, for example. When I paint them, I’m not trying to make a picture of her heart, I’m just painting them as eyes. I,m painting these eyes because I like them. I’m painting everything I see about them－the shape, the shadow in the fold of lids, the depth of the pupils－leaving nothing out. And as a results, almost by accident, a kind of expression takes shape. If it doesn’t, it means I mixed the colors badly or I got the shape wrong, one or the other, because that color and that shape are themselves a kind of expression.’’
Again Haraguchi took two steps back, comparing Mineko with the picture.
‘‘Something is wrong today, I’m sure. You must be tired. If you are, let’s quit. Are you?’’
Haraguchi walked up to the canvas again. ‘‘Now, let me tell you why I picked Mineko’s eye.
You find a beauty in western art, and no matter who’s painted her, she has big eyes. They all have these funny-looking big eyes. In Japanese art, through, women always have narrow eyes from images of kannon down to comic masks and Noh masks, and especially the beauties in ukiyo-e prints.
They all have elephant eyes. Why should standards of beauty be so different in East and West?
It seems strange at first, but actually it,s very simple. Big eyes are the only thing they have in the west, so an aesthetic selection takes place among the big eyes one’s.
All we have in Japan are whale eyes. Pierre-Loti made fun of them in Madame Chrysantbeme. ‘How do they ever open those things?’ he said. You see, it,s the nature of the country. There is no way for an aesthetic appreciation of big eyes to develop where materials are so scarce. Our ideal came from among narrow eyes, where there was no much freedom of choice, and we see prized in artists like Utamaro and Sukenobu. As nice and Japanese as they look to us, though, narrow eyes look terrible in Western style painting. People think you’ve painted a blind woman. On the other hand, we don’t have anybody who looks like Raphael’s Madonna, and if we did, nobody would consider her Japanese. The finally, is how I came to put Mineko through all this. ―Just a little while longer, Mineko.’’
She did not answer. She stood absolutely motionless.
Sanshiro found the painter’s remarks very interesting. If only he had come there specifically to hear them, he felt, their interest would have been vastly increased. The focus of his attention, however, was neither Haraguchi’s conversation nor Haraguchi’s painting. It was concentrated, of course, on the standing figure of Mineko. He heard everything the painter had to say, but his eyes never left Mineko. To him, her pose looked like a natural process caught in its most beautiful moment and rendered immobile. There was lasting solace in her unchangingness. But Haraguchi had suddenly turned his head and asked her if there were something wrong. Sanshiro felt almost terrified, as though the painter had informed him that the means of keeping this changeable beauty unchanged had spent itself.
Now that Haraguchi mentioned it, Sanshiro noticed there might indeed be something wrong with Mineko. Her color was bad, the glow was gone. The corners of her eyes revealed an unbearable languor. Sanshiro lost the sense of comfort this living portrait had given him, and at the moment the thought struck him―perhaps he himself was the cause. An intense personal stimulus overtook Sanshiro’s heart in that instant. The communal emotion of regret for passing beauty vanished from him without a trace. So great was his influence over her! With this new awareness, Sanshiro became conscious of his entire being. But was the influence to his advantage or his disadvantage? This was a question as yet unanswered.