The word "Koi" is used in the west to describe the variety of carp - a freshwater fish - that the Japanese refer to as "Nishikigoi". It is an ornamental type of domestic carp. Japanese Koi art originally took inspiration from Chinese carp art, as the carp is said to physically resemble a dragon - a symbol of strength and endurance in China. Carp are a popular motif in Chinese art.
In Japan, the carp represents good luck and good fortune. It is regularly painted swimming either up or downstream and these both have different meanings. It was a very popular motif in a number of famous Ukiyo-e woodblock prints - including the ones below by Hokusai - one of the most famous artists of the Ukiyo-e era. There is a lot of good information on the history of koi art here: http://hubpages.com/hub/koi-fish-art
Painting the koi fish is one of my favourite subjects at the moment. I love the colours of these ornamental fish and love trying to capture their movements in simple style brush strokes such as in the simple, minimalist paintings below.
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Sacha Grossel is a practising Visual Artist from Australia.