The ensō is one of the most prevalent images of Zen art, and it has become a kind of symbol of the clean and strong Japanese aesthetic. It has been subject to a rich variety of interpretations—seen as everything from a rice cake to a symbol of infinity. But regardless of how it is understood, the ensō is above all an expression of the mind of the artist who brushes it. It is said that the state of the Zen practitioner can be clearly read in his or her execution of the circle.
Audrey Yoshiko Seo brings together a collection of the best examples of ensō art to show the wonderful variety of the form and its variations, from the seventeenth century to the present, each with facing commentary. The commentary focuses on the meaning of the art and its historical context and provides an analysis of each artist’s technique. Also included are biographies of the artists, many of whom are important Japanese Zen teachers.