The Japanese culture has created an amazing shorthand for talking about objects or art.
Japanese Aesthetic Qualities for Judging Suiseki
Wabi can mean melancholic, lonely, unassuming, solitary, desolate, calm, quiet, still, impoverished or unpretentious. Wabi is a subjective feeling evoked by an object, the classic image being an abandoned fisherman’s shack on a lonely beach buffeted by a strong wind on a gray wintry day.
Sabi can mean ancient, serene, mellowed, antique, mature and seasoned, as well as lonely, solitary or melancholic. The presence of Sabi is often suggested by patina and other signs of age or wear on a treasured antique.
Shibui can mean quiet, composed, elegant, understated, reserved, sedate or refined. The quiet and understated elegance of a formal tea ceremony communicates much of the essential meaning of shibui.
Finally, yugen can mean obscure and dark, although this darkness is a metaphor for the mysterious, the profound, the uncertain and the subtle. The classic illustrations of yugen are the moon shining behind a veil of clouds, or the morning mist veiling a Mountainside.