Stanley Murashige at PCC Part 2 “Chinese Painting and Calligraphy….”

Stanley Murashige at PCC Part 2 “Chinese Painting and Calligraphy….”


DR. STANLEY MURASHIGE:
This is the Chinese term for what we’re translating
into English as “landscape.” And it’s important
to see the Chinese and to understand what it’s
about because once one starts to see the term in
Chinese, one begins to realize how
different this must be from what we mean by “landscape.” For example, here I am
in Chicago teaching, and as David Roy, who retired from
University of Chicago used to say, if you have x-ray vision, you will
not see mountains in Illinois. So in the Chinese tradition
then, if you went out to the cornfields of Illinois
and you painted the landscape that you saw, it would
not be considered this. Because the Chinese
terms “mountain”– or mountains because the Chinese
doesn’t differentiate singular or plural here– and you could
think of it as meaning both simultaneously, mountains and
water, quite literally, shan shui. So when we look at
the emergence of what becomes a great classical
traditional Chinese landscape painting in the 10th and
11th centuries when it does emerge I’ll show you
some earlier images that have mountains and streams in them. You have to have mountains. If there are no mountains,
it’s not landscape painting. And I have some slides that
talk a little bit about yin yang because it’s important
in the context of earlier Chinese landscaping. There is a kind of a
yin yang implication here where mountains and
water or rivers and streams refer to two inclinations
or tendencies in nature. That is to say that mountains
are expressive of the tendency of things to grow high, to grow
up towards the sky, to be solid, to change slowly because mountains
do change, and to be hard. Water, on the other hand,
flows downward, softer. It turns into mist. It’s not graspable. It’s more open to dramatic changes. So they complement each other. So mountains and streams
become mutually entailing complementary expressions of
the whole world of nature. And one doesn’t encounter
really the equivalent, at least in the texts
I’ve encountered, for the English word
“nature,” either. You’ll find terms like mountains
and streams or rivers and forests and so on, but the
all-encompassing term “nature” is another matter altogether. This is an early example
of mountains and water. This is not really landscape. It’s a cast bronze incense
burner, quite a spectacular object excavated in the late 1960s
by Chinese archaeologists from a tomb of a Han
Dynasty imperial prince, Prince Liu Sheng,
who died 113 B.C.E. And this is something
that was buried with him. And it’s a mountain island. So this down here depicted in
inlaid gold in these scroll forms are patterns of water. The term that we could use, at least
at this time, we can call this chi. Chi could be vapor. It could be patterns of vapor. It could be clouds. It could be the forms of mountains. It can be also the forms of water. So in this particular context, this
is water and water that swirls up. And it almost turns into
these oddly-shaped peaks. There are actually holes cast
in and among the mountain peaks so that when the incense
is lit, you can imagine the smoke of the incense
swirling around these peaks. So an incense burner that was
buried with Prince Liu Sheng. Usually identified as one of the
legendary islands of immortals, mountain islands of
immortals, one of three that exist somewhere off of
the Northeast coast of China. The interest in
mortality and longevity was important for
Han Dynasty culture and also for later Chinese
culture and Daoism in particular. But I wanted to put the
character for “immortal” that we’re translating as
“immortal” down here, which is literally a person on
the left next to a mountain. A mountain person is immortal. So just by way of introduction,
the notion of mountains and streams is connected with a long
history of, let’s say interest, and what we call it simplistically,
cult of immortality, request for longevity in
ancient Chinese culture. This is a probably copy of
an early original painting. This is just the detail of
a hand scroll, ink and color on silk, that is attributed to
a painter named Gu Kaizhi, who was living and working in the
300s, dying around about 406 in the common era. And the subject is a poem, so
this is an illustration of a poem. The poem is the immortal– sometimes
immortal– nymph of the Luo River. And there she is set in a landscape. Mountains and then
we have streams here. And she’s floating
above the streams and so we have again immortality associated
with the world of mountains and streams here in an
illustration of a poem. We move into a Buddhist context. And this will be pushing
into the sixth century, into the middle of
the sixth century. This is just a small detail of
wall paintings in a cave sanctuary, a cave shrine, a part of a monastic
site, a Buddhist shrine out– and I showed you slides
for that before the break– out in the Gobi
Desert near Dunhuang. Cave 249, mid-sixth century. And it shows here this
is an element of the sky. And there’s actually a Chinese sky
god immortal, though identified in this context as the god Indra. And then all sorts of other deities
and denizens of the sky realm. And then down here
the world of mountains picked out in mineral
blue and some brown ink. And with a hunting scene here. So this is the world of
mountains and streams down below. In another Buddhist
context, mid-eighth century, this is again the small
detail from a larger mural. And the mural’s basically Buddhist
subject matter, Buddhist narrative subject matter. So now we have mountains
that are strung together in sequences of overlapping
forms, conical shapes that are layered together to
create a sense of mountain ranges where the mountains and
also zigzagging streams are ways of framing a narrative,
which is then identified by these blanks here that
the text is now gone. So making the subject matter
of this narrative a little bit obscure although thought perhaps
the depictions of the pilgrimage of the early Tang Dynasty monk
Xuanzang be depicted here. Others have suggested these are
illustrations of fables and tales from the Lotus Sutra. Peter started out his talk with
a parable from the Lotus Sutra. Anyway, so mountains in mineral
blue and green here now. We’re pushing into the 10th century. We start seeing the
emergence of what we can call landscape
painting per se. And this is a painting that
has some controversy about it. And I’m one who thinks it’s
an early painting, and others, my colleagues don’t
agree with me about it. This is a painting that’s
in the Nelson Atkins museum in Kansas City. And I think it’s
battered, it’s beat up. It’s been restored and has
some old restoration on it. And some of the
paint has flaked off. We don’t really know what
the title might have been. It’s generally just
called “Travelers in a Mountain Landscape.” It’s attributed to this 10th
century artist Jing Hao. Also, we have some writing
surviving, supposedly written by Jing Hao
on landscape painting. This is not a large painting. I don’t remember. I didn’t have with me handy
the actual dimensions, but I remember the image may
not be much larger than this. So it’s not a really
large hanging scroll. What I want to do is show you
some details of this image and then start to lay out what
I call some of the conventions or some of the vocabulary of 10th
and 11th century landscape painting to familiarize you
with the language, the visual language of it. Also keeping in mind that the
language of this painting is full of an inherent– emerges as an
inherited practice, just the way the writing system
in calligraphy works. And you have the eight
basic brush strokes, and you have a stroke
number and order when you’re writing in a character. You also have patterns of practice. We have structuring, improvised
practice that is very much a part of the landscape
painting tradition. Now I called some of the things
I’m going to describe conventions, but I haven’t come up
with a better word for it because convention
sounds so absolute. You know it’s like,
these are the rules, and you have to follow these
rules, and this is how you do it. It’s much more open-ended than that. There are sort of inherited patterns
of ways of arranging compositions, of subject matter, of including
certain kinds of motifs, that are not absolutely defined. The texts don’t
actually describe them. I’m going to actually articulate
them for my own cataloging of them. But they’re open-ended
and so that there are ways of structuring organization
into the present moment unfolding. And in the creative
unfolding of that moment, those very structures that beget
your participation in that moment can actually then
themselves be changed by how you realize
them in that moment. So no real absolute
rules about this, although it seems
that there are a lot of apparent prescriptions
in painting. Here’s a detail of the
lower part of the painting. You see here. And there are people
in it and the people are all in this ghostly white. And that’s because a lot of
the detail has flaked off, and this is lead white pigment. So this is a mountain
landscape, perhaps even might have been meant as
a winter landscape given all the presence of the lead white
here, with small people floating around, going about their business. This is the upper
part of the painting, which has this grand mountain peak. And then there is over
here temple buildings. These are palatial style
architecture, timber frame architecture, and the
presence of temple buildings is in gorges and
valleys and mountains is one of the kind of
conventional motifs that recur in 10th and 11th
century landscape painting and then later landscape paintings. I’ve taught this
material for so long I ended up sort of evolving a
phrase to describe this convention. Temple buildings
nestled in the gorge partially obscured
by mist and trees. I have to find — and I realized
I was saying this over and over and over again, and
students were memorizing it. I would get these essay
exams back and they’d say, temple buildings nestled
in the gorge partially obscured by mist and trees. And one graduate student
made an art project out of it where she asked me
to translate it into, of all things, classical
Chinese and read it in Chinese and then read it in English. And then she refragmented
it, and so there’s my voice for 10 minutes going
on repeating this phrase. So there we have it. Temple buildings
nestled in the gorge partially obscured
by mist and trees. Trees down at the bottom
here, and this is a detail so you get some people there. That’s right here. And this man is also a
kind of a recurring motif. He showed up in the blue and
green Tang Dynasty landscape. I suggest it might be
referring to the story of a pilgrimage of Xuanzang. There was a image of a man with
a broad-brimmed hat on a horse. Well, here’s an image of a man on
maybe a horse but possibly a mule. Eventually it’s become
standard that he rides a mule, and he has a broad-brimmed hat. He’s emerging from behind the slope. And this recurs in a lot of
Chinese landscape paintings later. He becomes poeticized. He becomes a kind of trope
for the lone wanderer, wandering among
mountains and streams, except that he usually gets to
the point where he’s not alone. He always has an attendant
who’s a little bit smaller than he is, always on foot. And then another detail
and some more figures. That’s over here. More people right there,
and they’re next to– this is a hole in the painting. The painting is really
badly damaged so there are spots in it where
there is no painting. You’re looking at this dark area. You’re looking at the
backing of the painting. More people up here. And one of the things that’s
characteristic of 10th and 11th century landscape
paintings for the most part is that when you see people, they
are going about their business. No matter how strange
the landscape looks. They’re just, OK, I’ve
got the kids here. I’m carrying goods up this slope. Or you’re traveling,
and you’re wandering. And actually, Guo Xi , in his
teachings to his son in the 11th century about landscape
paintings is that well, you want to focus on those elements
of mountains and streams which are suitable for dwelling,
wandering, traveling, and gazing. And they become for me anyway
the four almost canonical ways of structuring the human
encounter with nature in the world of landscape painting
and also the poetry of painting as well. So what nature is
is something you do. It’s not a place. Nature is thinking about it. Nature is writing poetry about it. Nature is wandering through it. It is living in it. It is imagining living in it. It is something that
you participate in. Let me start outlining some
of the broader, shall I say, conventional practices or patterns
of practice that inform 10th and 11th century
landscape paintings. Composition. Composition is how you lay
out the forms in the image. You will have, first of
all, the great mountain. And there’s a hierarchy
of the realm of nature. In the 10th and 11th
century, there’s a keen sense that nature and human beings
mirror each other socially. So as in the case of
the human community, there’s a hierarchy so there is in
the world of mountains and streams. And that is the great mountain,
who in the 11th century is at times identified as
the sovereign mountain. And then once you have
the sovereign mountain, you lay out the smaller
forms of mountains. So we have a hierarchy
dominated by what we might call a great
mountain or the main mountain or the lord mountain, so to speak. Now this main mountain
that dominates the hierarchy of the
painting is usually paired with trees
down at the bottom. So we have the summit of the
mountain, and down below here is a group of tall
trees, near the bottom. And this is a pairing that we’ll
see over and over and over again. Now it’s not an absolute rule. We’re going to see variations on it. And sometimes it
doesn’t actually exist, and the trees are
replaced by a rock. Because down here we
also have another kind of pairing that appears
commonly, the mountain summit juxtaposed against, down at
the bottom, large boulders, large clusters of rocks. Now then, we have the division
along this, shall we say, this relationship,
this correlation here, the division of– in the
vertical format– the division of the painting space
into the left half and the right half, where
one half is more open space. In this particular example,
the space on the left side is more open here and given
to more horizontal forms. On the right side, by
way of complement parity, we have a more densely packed,
almost closed off space, where the forms are vertical
in orientation, vertical forms. So they complement each other and
where these two kinds of space meet is in the middle where we
have the lord mountain. Not quite so visible here, and
perhaps because it’s 10th century we see this phenomenon that I’m
going to talk about in a moment, more prominent in later
paintings, is also a shifting point of
view from top to bottom. The painting is divided along axes. You can imagine a vertical
axis cutting into the painting and also a horizontal axis right
to the middle of the painting. Now along these axes, particularly
along the vertical one, you’re going to have a
shifting point of view so that when you’re looking
at the summit of the mountain, you’re looking at
it from down below. When you’re looking at these rocks
down here and the trees down here below, you’re looking from up above. And where the middle horizontal
axis is, you’re looking straight on. Now I tell this to
art students, who say, well, you got that kind of
perspective in the Renaissance. And then I say to
them, does this look like a Renaissance
painting spatially? And they say, well, no. Well, one of the reasons is
because spatially, what’s happening is that as you are looking
up and you’re looking down, you are moving. So the way I describe
this to my students is imagine the plane
of the picture where you have the fulcrum of a seesaw. And you as the viewer are
on one end of the seesaw, and the horizon line is on
the back end of the seesaw. And so that as you look up to the
summit, your end of the seesaw is going down, and the
horizon line– which you see is our horizon line here– goes up. When you look down on these rocks,
as you shift your gaze from top down, your end of the seesaw goes
up, and the horizon line goes down. When you’re in the middle,
you’re both balanced, and you’re right here in the middle. What is also almost a
magical kind of phenomenon is that– This is almost sort
of quantum mechanics in a way– when you look at any
detail, no matter where it is, when you think in
detail, and you look at the summit or you look down here below,
you’re always looking straight on. And you’re like, whoa. Because it’s kind of mind–
It freaks my students out. It’s mind-blowing. All right. There is also, though, because
of the hanging scroll format, most of the paintings
of this era are surviving in this vertical format. Because of the vertical format and
the proportions of the rectangle here, it’s not so
prominent but you also start to get the shifting
point of view left and right. So that when you look towards left,
you’ve moved over to the right. When you look to the right,
you move over to the left. It’s not so prominent, but it
starts to emerge there also. So those are the basic,
overall compositional sorts of structures that one sees
recurring in 10th and 11th century landscape paintings but also in
paintings that are later than 10th and 11th century that are
emulating the tradition of the 10th and 11th century. So they start, too. They show up in later paintings. And very few paintings
from this period survive. You can count the number
of authenticated paintings, or generally accepted paintings,
minus contemporary art historians, that date from this
period on both hands and have a few fingers left over. Interestingly enough, I was just
telling a participant in the break that two of these paintings
are in Kansas City, Missouri. And this Is one of them, and
another one later on you’ll see. So there are other
kinds of things, too, that are more, what shall
we say, motifs that show up. I already mentioned
the temple buildings, but there are also bridges for the
idea of wondering and traveling. And you will see, besides
fancy temple buildings, you’ll see more rustic kinds of
cottages for the idea of dwelling. Sometimes viewing pavilions. You will see– I know
it’s not so present here. You might not be able to see
it so well in this slide, but streams cascading over rocks. That’s another motif. Waterfalls and streams
cascading over rocks. The broad-brimmed hatted guy on
the mule shows up quite a bit. So “vocabulary,”
quote unquote of 10th and 11th century landscape painting,
the great or sovereign mountain, hierarchical relationships, division
of the painting along axes vertical and horizontal. This is from teaching. I start to put more text in
that summarizes and [INAUDIBLE]. A differentiation of the
space left and right, one side more open and horizontal,
the other dense and vertical. The correlation between
the main mountain summit and a grove of tall trees below. Oh, by the way, I forgot to mention
that in the tall trees below, one’s got to be bent. At least one’s got to be
bent and sometimes really twisted and gnarly. The shifting point of view along
the vertical and horizontal axes. Water or river below. We’ve got pools of
water that suggest seeing part of a river
or a large stream. Streams cascading over
rocks and waterfalls. Temple buildings
nestled in the gorge. Simple rustic cottages,
pathways and bridges. People going about their business. And then the mule
rider with the big hat. So here’s another painting
compared to the Jing Hao painting I just showed you. This one is an attribution. It’s not very likely
to be of this period, but it shows a lot of the
same kinds of features. You see the main
mountain, and you can see the mountain head or the
summit is similar in shape to Jing Hao’s painting. We have our trees down here
below, not exactly the same but in a different configuration. But still that idea here, and
here’s our bent one down here below. We have a space that’s
more open on one side and more closed on the other side. We have stream that
cascades over rocks. We have a ridge here. I’ll show you a few details,
including– Let’s see. Here we go. Here’s a detail of the
summit, and guess what’s here. There’s our temple, and I’m
sorry this slide’s not so good. There’s our temple building. And then here’s the detail
at the bottom, ridges. There’s a little bit of a scene
of a village down here below. There’s a pathway here. And we get a close-up view, there
is our guy on the donkey, the hat. There’s a little bit of domesticity,
including various depictions of mules sleeping on the
ground and lots of narrative observation of this world. This is a world alive, and
those small human beings are very much a part of this world. Here’s another example. Again, open on one side,
closed on the other side. We have a dominant
cluster of mountains. We have tall trees down here below. Here’s a bent tree. Add another one for good measure. We have a zigzagging stream
that cascades over rocks and I get really fancy. Bingo, there’s a temple building
nestled in a snowy gorge. And then another example, it’s
attributed to really important 11th century landscape painter,
but this is an attribution. It’s probably a later painting. I’m showing our dominant mountain. Slightly more open space on this
side, closed off space here. Waterfalls, a division
of the painting, horizontal and then
the vertical axis. And the mountain is
slightly off axis. That’s perfectly OK. We have a cluster of
trees down here below. And then at least one tree is bent. And then down here, I’ll zoom
in, if you can make it out. If you can make that
out, that’s over here. Guess what. There’s our temple building again. Mist, lots of mist, is also part
of the 10th and 11th century tradition. I should put that down on my list. Mist, mist enshrouded mountains. Here’s yet another one. We have our dominant mountain. And then we have closed off on
one side, open on the other side. We have a waterfall with
streams cascading over rocks. the division of the painting
along axes, and et cetera. There’s, guess what,
there’s our temple building. And then this is
also in Kansas City. It’s actually a wonderful painting. Though the composition
is extraordinary, the execution is a
little bit repetitive, suggesting to some of us that it’s
a copy of some extraordinary work that we no longer have. Attributed to Li Cheng, one of the
most important, at least on record anyway, 10th century painters. And then we have central mountain
peaks, base goes around it. Our temple is now
prominently placed along these central horizontal axis. The pagoda of the temple occupies
an extraordinary position at the intersection of the
horizontal axis with the vertical, which is an important–
usually in these paintings– an important moment of transition. It’s where you find mist. It’s that moment where the human
viewer and the horizon line are level. There’s a moment of transition
between the watery realm of the earth and the sky realm,
with humans in the middle. Streams and rivers down here. There’s a bridge here. There, by the way, there’s
a broad-brimmed hatted guy down here in the lower
right hand corner. Which side is more open? Which side is more closed? Not so clear. It’s kind of ambiguous. And that’s part of
the point is that, like as I was saying, that these
are open-ended kinds of inherited practices. They’re not absolute rules. They don’t bother
to write them down. There are probably
regional variations on these kinds of
things, personal ones. Different teachers have
different approaches. But the idea is that this is a
kind of practice and discipline that is the structuring that enables
you to be free to be creative in the moment, to participate
in the spontaneous unfolding of the moment. So it may seem to a kind of
modernist point of view shared by many art students is that
how can this kind of structure allow originality,
authenticity, and freedom? But Henry was saying
this morning, if you don’t have a kind of
structure, what do you have? You have nothing. You have chaos. There is no possibility for freedom. All right. Now this is one of the
great paintings that survives in the handful that
survived from the 11th century by this artist named Fan Kuan. And I’ll show you a
few details of it. And there’s the large mountain. It is a little bit more
open on the left side. But this is enormous mountain. And the general narrative
of modern art history about 11th century
landscape paintings, this is the moment when
Chinese artists are most interested in depicting
the world that they see. Yes and no, I think that takes
us in the wrong direction. The way I see it is
that there’s something about the concrete physical world
that one lives in becomes much more important part of your
participation in– Henry was talking, alluding to– now a
metaphysics that’s emerging into, shall we say, a neo-Confucian
notion of practice. In any case, just to
save some time, let me just show you a few
details of this painting. I’m going to spend the last
half hour mostly talking about one other painting,
but I’ll just quickly show you some details of this one. This one, that’s a detail of
this large rock down here below, sort of Rock of Gibraltar
kind of configuration. It has two people in it. He’s one of them. Where is he? He’s here. And they’re leading a pack of mules. And by the way, this detail’s
only like an inch or so. So this is extraordinary, right? And behind him, there’s
the caboose, his partner. That’s right over here. The painting has a signature. This is supposedly the
signature, and where is that? That’s there, found by a
Taiwanese art historian going over the painting with a magnifying
glass in the ’60s, I believe. And then this is the
signature, and there’s what it is in this awful font. Signatures, by the
way, are no guarantee of authenticity, given the
importance of the virtuosity in the handling of the brush,
and the practice of calligraphy, signatures are very easily faked. So there are no guarantees
of authenticity. Nor are seals, by the way. Seals are also easily faked. Cascading streams over rocks. And that’s over here. And more detail on the bottom here. And another detail. This painting is a
little over 80 inches high so it’s a
monumental work on silk. We have temple buildings there. But Fan Kuan is a little
bit unconventional. So he’s not really quite following
all the rules, if you consider them rules, because of the way he
modifies the orientation, where he puts the temple, for example. And there are no tall trees down
at the bottom of the painting, although he does follow another
convention of putting boulders down at the bottom. This is a detail here. This is where rhythm is
the key to understanding the rendering of
composition of landscape, but also what
constitutes a rock, what constitutes mist, what constitutes
the world of nature and mountains and streams is the rhythm. And the rhythm is expressive
of correlationality. It’s how things work together. Rhythm is the energy of how
things interact together, the corresponding relationships. So if we think about how
rhythm works in this detail, imagine, so this is
the central axis. And we have these lines, these
contours that extend out. You imagine, the way I
describe this customarily, is you imagine this is water. You throw a pebble
into the water, and you have these extending, radiating
lines of energy that move outward. One of the characteristics, too, of
all of these paintings– this one, I’m just bringing this
idea, this notion, this phenomenon out here– is
that along the central axis, the rhythm is always from
the center, out and up. So this is energy that moves out
and up and on the other side, energy that moves out and
up this direction. When you come to the outer edges, to
the left edge or to the right edge, the energy moves up and
in, by way of complementing the energy that moves out and up. So this is not
arbitrary in the sense that Fan Kuan is– this is clearly
a kind of pattern of practice that’s going on. On the other hand, it’s intended
that part of the practice is, this is spontaneously executed. They do not sketch these things out. You go back to the studio. These are not real
places necessarily. In a sense, it doesn’t
also mean, it’s not quite right to say that
they’re imagined places because imagine takes
is into the realm of human personal subjectivity
versus the world out there. And that’s not really
quite what’s going on here. But it’s really taking the
experience of the world, taking the world of mountains,
and bringing them back into your studio, and
then speaking them in the language of these
conventions of composition, the motifs, patterns and
techniques of brush work, handling ink washes
and that sort of thing. Spontaneously, and spontaneous
doesn’t necessarily mean fast. The notion that a spontaneous
gesture must look fast is something that comes
out of the impressionists. Because impressionists in trying to
achieve an unmediated realization of an absolute timeless
truth, say, forget education, but if you think too
much, the thinking is going to get in the way. And analysis and rationale
doesn’t get in the way. They’re sort of romantics. They come out of romantic– So the brush work is
all spotted and quick. Why? Because you’re trying not
to think so you work fast. Get the quick sketch. That’s a European modernist
notion of spontaneity. So my students say,
well, something like this doesn’t look like it’s
done spontaneously. Well, spontaneity here means
an utter virtuosic mastery of the practice that in
the particular moment of the making of the
painting, there’s this extraordinarily insightful
realization of participation in the rhythm of the
moment, which includes the rhythm of your teachers, your
family, your friends, and also the rhythm of nature. This is the notion of,
shall we say, oneness. It’s not some kind of
necessary, some kind of mystical sort of disillusion off
into an amorphous kind of infinity. But actually oneness is you
as this particular person in the collaboration with
others in the realization of unfolding of time, the world. And when you are able to
do that– and the analogy is music– when you’re able to
do that, you’re making music. And it’s an event. Life is human beings, and it’s
this event that’s unfolding. So it’s time, and when you
have that, that’s spontaneity. So some patterns of trees. The techniques of the brush work
here and all these different kinds of trees, this is
basically one brush work, one brush technique here. And it’s the same in
all of these, but simply by varying pressure, varying
tempo, inflecting the brush in different ways, you get
different kinds of trees. And what’s actually I think
they’re trying to show here is this is a family of trees
that’s different from this family of trees, except that
they’re all related. In one family, these
are immediate family, and then these are the cousins. But simply by varying
rhythm and situation. Patterns of leaves and pine needles. This is, by the way,
this pine tree, which has extraordinary position
in Fan Kuan’s painting, he doesn’t divide the painting
top half, bottom half. He pushed it into
top 2/3, bottom 2/3. This is where the
balance of the seesaw is, and this is where this tree is. This is where the mist is. The forms down here are all
horizontal and compressed. He’s compressed the energy of the
forms down into the bottom third. So it’s like compressing
a spring, and you have this energy that bounces in
zigzag fashion among these forms. It’s sort of like imagine
compressing gases, and so there’s this
pressure that’s built up. When you get here into the mist,
all this pressure is released. All the forms go vertical,
and this mountain seems tall, gargantuan,
and monumental. It pushes out towards
the left and right because it’s like
a rocket exploding. It’s an acceleration. So size is a matter of acceleration
and explosion of density. Now this is the painting I want
to focus on the rest of this talk. Guo Xi’s Early Spring dated to 1072. It’s five feet, three inches high. Same sorts of things. We have our central mountain,
open left half, closed right half. And I’ll show you
some details of it. Let’s take a look at it. There’s a detail of
the lower left hand. There are people in it as well. Here they are. Two women. She’s holding some stuff. Looks like they just
disembarked from this boat. There’s a kid here, and
there’s a little infant. She’s carrying an infant. They seem to be in conversation. They’re headed here. That’s all going on here. They’re headed home, simple
rustic thatched roof cottages. Now these guys, with their
sun hats, hunched over, bearing heavy loads up a steep
incline, are right there. And then we have this guy poling his
boat, fishermen shoring up his net. They are down here. This guy on a bridge, turning
around to see what’s going on. This guy is there, and
he’s looking at these two, a foreigner and guess who. Emerging from behind a slope, there. A viewing pavilion, that’s there. And by the way, I should have
mentioned temple building– god, I should have mentioned the
temple buildings right there. So there’s all kind
of an orientation of wandering directed in
Guo Xi’s Early Spring. So we start at the bottom
with these boulders, and we have tall trees and a bent
tree, really gnarly one here. So we start at the bottom. There’s a kind of movement of
these cloud-like boulders that takes us up towards the center. We stop and say hello to
the trees, who greet us. And Guo Xi actually, in
his teachings to his son, refers to them as junzi,
using the Confucian term for exemplary person. So they’re like junzi, ministers
of the court, beckoning you. And so then that’s the
bottom half of the painting. He takes us into this
swirling center here, and then we’ll move
off into the valley. Now here are the tall trees. An extraordinary painting. This is early in spring
so the mountain world is waking up from its
dormancy in winter. That’s those bare trees there. And then the valley. So we proceed into the valley. This Is where the
broad-brimmed hatted guy is, and so we’re going
to actually follow this in a kind of a
clockwise turning. And the trees over here are sort of
pointing their direction this way. Go that way. And these trees here
at the left edge are pointing in,
saying, go that way. Go that way. So we’re going to
go into the valley. We’re listening to them. There’s also a pair
of cliffs up here, and I want to say something
about the cliffs in a moment so that’s where we’re looking. The over-hanging cliffs
here are actually also a kind of an
inherited practice. Certainly, they’re a reality
in Chinese mountains. But also we see an
eighth century detail of Dunhuang, a little detail. Actually, it’s a
Buddhist subject matter, but it shows over-hanging cliffs. You can make it out with
a zigzagging stream. So Guo Xi’s landscape
motif has a old ancestor. There are also some mountains here,
if you can make them out, in white. And then they have little
vertical brown lines that indicate trees
on top of the summit. This is from a mid-eighth
century Chinese lute, a pipa. It’s a plectrum guard. It guards the face of the pipa. It has this painted image on it. It’s in Japan. It was a gift to the
Japanese emperor. And it shows overhanging cliffs
that open up onto a valley and a zigzagging stream. First, let me say something
about these cliffs. There’s a kind of
relationality that I referred to just a minute ago
with Fan Kuan’s painting that shows corresponding
kinds of relationships. The mountain has all
these family-like, kinship-like relationships in it. For example, these two cliffs. We have two over-hanging cliffs
that are very similar in shape. This sort of soft edge, and
one is lighter in the back to the one that’s darker here,
but they seem to be very similar. Then we have another pair that are
slightly different, more jagged edge. But these two seem to be
related to each other. So you might say that this is
like, say, younger brother, older brother, younger brother,
older brother, but then they’re cousins to each other. And there’s a great deal of this
kind of correlative sense of form that plays out throughout
Guo Xi’s painting. Now this is the signature and the
title, Guo Xi and Early Spring. This is the date, and then
we have Guo Xi’s signature. So that’s where this is. It’s on the left hand
side of the painting, right overlooking the valley. This is Guo Xi’s signature here. It’s partly effaced
by damage to the silk. And the seal is underneath. Now when we get to the
top of the painting, here we see more
clearly these cliffs. Ignore the inscription. The inscription is added
by the Qianlong emperor in the 18th century, and
also this is his seal. So the inscription and
the largest of the seals is not original to the painting. And then if we look
at the summit, we have this undulating
line with vertical lines to indicate trees at the summit. And then we have here a
diagram of decorative imaging on an inlaid bronze tube from the
Han Dynasty, second century B.C.E. And what’s depicted here, I’ve
marked out in the pink here, is an undulating– originally
in gold inlay– of mountains. These are mountains
with vertical striations that indicate trees
at the tops of them, and we have an undulating line. And then this is second century
B.C.E., and here we have 1072, Guo Xi is doing the same
thing, but not the same thing. And he’s not conscious. This is not a postmodern, conscious,
historical allusion to the past. This is just something
that grows naturally out of the traditional practice. We circle around. So we’ve come up from the
trees, boulder, trees, swirling around the
middle with these forms, swirling like a vortex. We spin into the valley, and
we circle around the summit. We go up to the summit, and then
we drop down through the mist here. And where we end up, in
this densely filled valley. Down on the right side,
here are temple buildings, and there’s a cascading
stream pouring over rocks. That’s here. And then another detail,
closer view of the stream. We have our temple
buildings up at the top. And then these two trees,
which are right here. Now these are
extraordinary trees that I want to spend a little
moment with this detail to show how this interdependent
sense of response, this rhythm and the
response that is really how the relationship of
these two trees works. You start with this tree. We could start with the
other one, but arbitrarily start with this one. It’s a little closer to us. It overlaps the other
one, and it rises out of the rocky soil in an
arc, which is basically something like a quarter circle. It’s not really a circle because
it’s more tightly bent here, and it starts to
straighten out here. It’s turning counter-clockwise,
and it has a knot hole here, and then it bends 90 degrees. Well, the tree behind it says, OK. That’s what you do. I’m going to do the same thing. I’m going to turn a quarter
circle, then straighten out. I got my own knot hole. I’m also going to get really thick
and craggy and all knotty down here below. And I’m also going to bend
not quite at a right angle. And then I’m going
to go up this way, and I’m going to shoot
out another branch. And I’m going to go up this way. I’m going to go that way. So how do you feel about that? This tree then says, OK,
well I’m going to go. Now you went clockwise. I’m going to go clockwise, too. So I go clockwise. I’m going to go up this way. And not only that, zigzag zigzag
and disappear into the mist. This tree says, OK, I follow
suit, zigzag zigzag into the mist. They sing together. Everything, every detail in
this painting operates that way. Every detail. Nothing is isolated. Everything is seen in this–
when you focus on any detail– everything relates to each other
in this kind of rhythmic fashion, this play of give and take. Down the boulder down below. Clouds like clouds. Rhythm. What makes a rock a rock? This, it’s an event. A rock is the event. Something happened. It’s this billowing cloud of rock. That’s the event. But the event is constituted
in multiple events. What are those events? It’s the rhythm of light and dark. Dark, light. Dark, light. Dark, light. Dark, light. Dark, et cetera. Pulse. Then we have overlapping forms. So you can imagine faces, facets,
one over the other in sequence. This one here you
can sort of define. Maybe this is another one. This is another facet. This is another one. And they’re like also arcs,
oval shapes, elliptic shapes, in sort of a curve. And then they turn with respect
to each other counterclockwise or clockwise along a
zigzagging line that pulses in the core of this rock. So you might think of it as a cam
shaft in an internal combustion engine where these
arcs, these forms, are turning in relationship to
each other, and which way they turn depends upon where you are. If you’re looking at one, it
turns clockwise with respect to the other. And then you move on, the one
that was once turning clockwise is now turning clockwise. So we have this kind of rotating
zigzagging form in addition to the light and dark
alternation, and then we have the edges of the boulder, which
start to expand in these curves. So this thing balloons up in
a world of aggregated rhythms, rhythmic forms and pulses. And then the growth is
also transformation, extraordinary transformation,
where what something is depends upon, first of all,
your point of view at that particular
moment of looking, and also, your point of view
is also temporarily framing a set of conditions. And with that temporary
set of conditions, you have that’s what that thing is. When you shift your point of
view, those older conditions don’t quite hold. They give birth to new conditions,
and so what thing was in one point is becoming something
else in another. Transformation. So if we look at this
gully here, which in sort of a Western
tradition of representation would be delineation. Dark lines around an
object are delineation. Delineation is a way
of separating an object from the rest of the
world, of isolating it as– talking about using Henry’s
word– autonomous from everything, to use a line to border it off. Chinese painting uses lines but
never to delineate in that fashion. Lines always are
about the connections, the sort of porous connections
that really link things together. So what is this? We could say, well, this is a border
to the right side of the rock. But actually it has a life of its
own, depending upon where you look. Down here, yes, OK, that’s the
border, the edge of the rock. But then it starts to expand,
it turns into a gully up here. And over here what is it? It’s another rock, another
cluster of boulders. If we’re looking at
this in relationship to this, yes, it’s edge,
it’s gully, it’s shadow. But when we look at this dark
area in relationship to this, this is a body of water. So now it’s shoreline. So what is it? Depends on your point of view,
which is constantly changing. So then we get to here’s a detail. Where’s our temple buildings? Here, black and white. And we have this ridge
here that’s arcing, that’s turning counterclockwise,
by virtue of overlapping, undulating lines and planes. So you have this one. And on top of that one is this one. On top of that one is this
one here, that’s right here. I want to call your attention to
the interesting light and dark relationship here. In the Art school, we call this
a figure ground ambivalence. Now, in academic European
painting, light and shadow are about modeling. It’s about rendering
three-dimensional mass and volume in space, so setting
distinct objects in a space. they’re separate from that space. And so seeing and
perceiving is actually seeing light and
shadow relationships. And it’s interesting that
it’s an important way of seeing classically, in
the history of art in Europe, when also the metaphors of light
and shadow and light and dark are such powerful ones, in Europe,
and not so powerful in China. light and shadow here, when you look
at the light side, OK, it projects. The dark side recedes. Shift your point of view, and
you look directly the dark side. Now, it projects and light recedes. It’s not supposed to do
that, if you’re painting in, in the Renaissance or in
the 19th century academy. But it does so in China. So you create this pulse that’s
happening, this rhythm of light and dark in their encounter. There’s also a way of looking
at how this ridge comes to be. And there are different
ways of looking at. And one way of looking
at it is from the point of view of deferentiality. So how does this white ridge
achieve its particular shape, its uniqueness, its bulge
here, its indentation here, and its indentation there? What it does is it
says– hypothetically, we say– it says to the dark
area, OK, I tell you what. I’m going to let you do you want
to do, and I’ll follow suit. I will respond in kind. You want to recede. I will push in. You want to push in. I will recede. Ah, you want to recede
here, so I’ll push in. By virtue of deference
to the dark area, the light area actually most
assertively becomes what it is, in its uniqueness. Conversely, the dark area
is doing the same thing. This is harmony. This is what nature is. All right, the dark
area says the same way. It says, all right, light
area, you want to push in. I’ll recede. You want to pull back. I’ll push in, So on and so forth. So the two working together,
work on the yin yang kind of exchange of
mutual deference. They create this world. They create so everything
in this painting has that sensibility to it. Now, let’s look at this detail. Finally, two figures, the last
figures I haven’t shown you. They’re right there. And they’re climbing up a ridge. This ridge, well, it’s a really
small detail in the center of the painting, near where the
vertical axis and the horizontal axis intersect. Look at this edge here. And one of the things about
Chinese brush work and calligraphy is that, you can draw a line
where the edges of that line are not parallel. You normally think of a line,
and the edges of the line are even, not in calligraphy. You can do this extraordinary thing. You get a pulse here of the ridge. Let’s look at this detail– thick,
thin, thick, thin, thick, thin, thick, thin, already has a rhythm. But it’s a rhythm
that is, in one sense, responding to nature
and its physicality. With each change of thick and thin,
there’s a change in direction. So this thick is
going down this way. Thin is going down this way. Thick is going down this way. Thick is going down
this and turning. And then it turns here. It goes in two directions. And then it get
thin, going this way. We’re basically zigging and zagging. Think of that first brush
stroke that I went through, in the first half of my talk. So we have a rhythm of thick
and thin but a rhythm of zig and zag, smallest detail. We zoom out– left,
right, left, right. And we also have dark
tone, light tone. So we have that sort of
dark-light figure ground ambivalence in the rhythm of that. Now, what do we have? We have an interesting relationship
between the zigzagging here and this tree, which is an S-curve
here and another S-curve here. But we sort of make jagged S-curve
and another jagged S-curve. And then, remember the two trees? They’re over here. And that’s all over here. So we have this
extraordinarily relationship between these two
different kinds of trees. And we also have this ridge
that’s further in the distance, working together. There is the sense too here,
of another kind of S-curve that’s underneath here,
within the circle here. And that makes people think of this. This is an older
sort of form of what we all the diagram of yin and yang. And so is Guo Xi putting
the taiji, the yin yang symbol, in the center
of early spring? Well, that’s open to debate. I don’t know. I mean, it’s such a part of
the spontaneous practices of the tradition, so much a
part of your flesh and blood that it could come out naturally. What about yin and yang, the taiji? The way we generally talk about
yin yang, which is basically here. The reason I’m bringing
this up is because it’s the rhythm of the world, in its
novelty, the creation’s novelty. It’s this rhythm of the interaction
of these two tendencies. Sometimes, yin and
yang are described as forces and that sort of thing. And I tend to think. The language I use is that, yin and
yang refer not to forces, so much as inclinations, tendencies, and
proclivities, within a situation. And they’re not really–
the way we talk about them and think of them as absolute
opposites, ontological opposites. One sometimes reads
that they’re thought of in some kind of materialist
dielectric or that sort of thing. That doesn’t really quite work. They’re interchangeable. And you say, well, how can
they be interchangeable? That leads to an Orientalcy
of Chinese paintings being sort of mysticism. The only way you can get two
ontological opposite to become one is this mystery, some sort of
magic or something like that. But it’s really, really
quite, in many ways, down to earth in what’s going on. They way we could start
to understand yin yang is not these kinds
of radical opposites but are actually–
and it makes sense– as inclinations that are
mutually interchangeable. We look at the Chinese characters. We have a radical and phonetic. Radical is the left side. Radical is the same in both of them. The radical refers
to a hill, H-I-L-L. What does a hill have to do with
these cosmological principles? Well, yin was the
shaded side of the hill. Yang was the sunny side of the hill. It’s already beginning to sense
that, well, wait a minute. It’s the same on hill. But one side has go sun. The other side has got the light. And we being to start to see that
these are relatively relationships. Although there is a tendency. One side of the hill tends to
get the sun most of the time. And the other side doesn’t. So yang becomes south. Yin becomes north. And here, yang becomes depicted
as a graphed-out continuous line and a broken line here. We have these qualities,
negative-positive, passive-active, female-male, receptive-creative. And we tend to think these are,
again, the ontological opposites. And they’re not really. What they are is, yin and yang are
relational, completely relational. Nothing is absolutely yin. Nothing is absolutely yang. The way they’re described is that,
they cycle around each other, in a kind of diachronic fashion. First, you have things
at their height. They’re at yang, sort
of like the seasons. Summer is yang. And then, we plunge into
autumn, as we are now. And so we’re heading into
yin in winter, and so on. They cycle around each other. And that’s a common way
of understanding it. And there’s another way
also of understanding it that every situation unfolding
is simultaneously yin and yang. So you and I are
simultaneously yin and yang. And the way I sort of
describe it to my students is, I say well, in this lecture,
who’s yin and who’s yang? And usually they’ll
say well, Stanley. Obviously, you’re yang
and we’re obviously yin. We’re being passive. And I say, well,
how passive are you? To what extent are
you paying attention? To what extent are you
responding in a certain fashion? Your very response, actually
in a way no matter what that response is, could
be snoozing and whatnot, is somehow an active response. My yang is a response to you. My yang is also a
response to– I’m sorry. The yin aspect of me
is my response to you as I’m talking spontaneously. It’s also my response
to the symposium, and it’s what it
requires, what is asked, what it’s invited me to
do, it’s invited us to do, which is a response to the greater
call for the needs of Portland Community College and its
interest, which is a greater response to higher education in
the State of Oregon, west coast. How far do you want to go with
this anyway to which I’m responding and to which you’re also responding? So the question of who
is yin and who is yang is not so– we’re both, depending
upon your point of view, but there is also focus. In this particular case in the
lecture, I’m more yang in a sense than you are. Sports. American football. The Team on the offense is yang
and the team on the defense is yen. Right? So you have this offensive–
this running back with the ball. He’s charging down the field, and
we say, yeah, that’s really yang. But every step he
takes is in a response to what the defense is doing. So is he yin or yang? He’s both. So that’s another way of actually as
a useful tool for bringing it down to the realm of the concrete
and in particular in a way of understanding how yin
and yang is not necessary kind of a mystical union of
opposites, but actually very productive and fruitful
way of thinking about– skip this diagram– of
how world is a field of unfolding events, a continuous
field unfolding. So what we have here, here’s the
detail of the two figures here, and here’s the whole painting. Same thing. The rhythmic give and take,
the yin-yang sort of impulse in this tiny stroke here, this tiny
moment here is the whole painting. This is the same thing. S curve here and we have this as
the meeting place of light and dark, or workspace that is, pushing
in in the space that’s extruding and that how they are
complementary to each other and mutually entailing. So the whole painting works
in this fashion on all levels. So we get to the one and the
totality, the one and the many. The many are all the
myriad events that are taking place in this
world in this painting, and they constitute
the great mountain. The great mountain is not some
god that creates this world, It’s actually constituted by the
myriad events that take place. By the same time, the
myriad events happen as part of that overall unfolding
context of the whole, so they are in a sense also constituted
by the whole and by each other. Music was the analogy. For me that’s really important, and
I do pick jazz and classical music because they’re such discipline. Classical music in many
ways plays an important part because of its
formality, but they’re both improvatory traditions. You have to master this
discipline in order to perform in the
freedom of spontaneity and the creative unfolding in
the moment, and it’s also social. Calligraphy and the enjoyment
of the painting, and painting is actually a way of realizing your
mutually-entailing relationship and interdependency
with everything else. And that’s the goal is actually
to realize that participation. So the way I look at
painting, there’s another way, a level of looking at Guo
Xi’s Early Spring painting is that it is not at all any kind
of way a representation of mountains or even an imagined or expressive
representation of mountains, but rather it’s a
score for performance like this sheet of music. Because this sheet
of music isn’t music. It’s a possibility
for music to happen. Just as this painting
is a possibility for a certain kind
of event to happen. The event happens to be
living out and re-performing the rhythms of nature,
which is basically also for the viewer, the living out
and the re-performance a Guo Xi’s rhythm of painting it, and
Guo Xi’s masters and teachers, and Guo Xi’s all of
the experiences he’s had in the complex world of
interrelationships that he’s lived out to the moment
of that painting. You the proper viewer
appropriately viewing can also relive that and re-perform
that, and it is important and it’s stated that you
have to be the proper viewer. You can’t just sort
of like what we do. We go to the museum
and say, that’s cool. I like that. Let’s move on. How long do you want
to spend this museum? You know? It’s like friends of mine
that go with me says, I tell you what, you guys. You guys go on your own. I’m going to be here for hours. My feet are killing me, but it’s
just a difference in approach. But that’s what’s needed here. It’s just a long
look that is opening, is being deferential to the image. So viewing the image
actually seduces you. It wants you, it invites you. There are all these rhythms. Look at the details. Look at the relation of
the details of the whole. Absorb yourself into
this extraordinary world that’s coming into
blossom under your gaze. You respond to it, and in a
sense, it’s responding to you. And then together in that
moment of spontaneous view, you’re making music. But with not just with the painting
and not just with the mountains, but the whole world of
extraordinary world of relationships that are happening, that
have happened in the past, they are happening in
the moment, and will continue to happen in the future. That’s when painting happens. It’s a performance of art. Just one I’ve shared since
I’ve shown you hanging scrolls. Well, how does this work
in a horizontal format? This is in Kansas City. This is an extraordinary
painting of Kansas City. As it survives its ink on
silk, its 18 inches high, but it’s actually cut off
about an inch off the bottom and an inch off the top. But as a horizontal format, we
have the same kinds of things. We got tall trees here. We’ve got a bent tree here. It angles in to a
zigzag extreme, and it takes you into a misty distance. We come to the middle of
painting, what do you have? Great mountain. Hierarchy of form. Basically also even
the 18 inches, you have this varying shifting
point of view up and down. But the shifting point of
view here now is horizontal, and you’re moving it through
the painting section by section. So it has all the elements
of the vertical format, but now in horizontally. Then we come to the denouement. We have the smaller peaks. By the way, there’s the broad
rimmed head of Guo on the bridge. And then we come to the very end. You can see another view of him. He’s looking pretty good. This is another fellow who’s
trying to get his mule into a ferry and the mule won’t go, so
he’s raised his walking stick and he’s going to whack
the mule on the butt. This is the end of the scroll. It takes us into–
where does this take us? This is the end. It’s actually an open-ended end. It takes us into the
beginning as if you’re going to begin this whole
cycle over and over again. When you put the beginning
and the end together, we have the great
mountain in the middle, we have these trees
that start off here, and we have the trees that angle
us back in, kind of a refolding onto itself. So just to show you some
mountains, what mountains in China actually look like. Even though these
paintings that I’m showing you are not meant to be
paintings of actual mountains. This is Mount Hua with
some Daoist priests and the old, old photographs. And to show you, notice that
there are buildings there. There they are. So there’s a certain
reality to these buildings nestled in precarious places. The easy way up. I’ve never been up
Mount Hua, sorry to say. And these bent trees,
extraordinary trees. This is Huangshan, Yellow
Mountain, in Anhui Province. And the relationship of
these forms to mists, which is constantly changing
and moving, is another view. And these vertical peaks with
trees and growing on these ridges. This is also Mount Hua. These so-called special mountains,
sometimes called sacred mountains, don’t think of them
as singular peaks like Mount Fuji or [INAUDIBLE]. They’re actually landscapes
of multiple peaks and valleys and ridges and cliffs and streams. This is actually a
detail of one mountain. But here’s the stream down
here below with our tiny people down here below. And then finally, the
Wuyi Mountains here. So I think we have a couple of
minutes left for a few questions. A very good question. Case of Guo Xi, the painting
I just talked about. It’s been a long time. He ends up being
hired by the emperor, and he works for the
Shenzong emperor. So he’s an imperial court painter. Fan Kuan we don’t know. Did he work for anybody? Unfortunately, we know so little
about most of the painters. Guo Xi is one of the exceptions. So at this time,
many of the painters were professional painters who
worked for important patrons like the emperor. Guo Xi, we know a lot
about records he’s painted. He was contracted to paint
landscape murals of imperial palace buildings, lots of screens. None of this survives. There’s some interesting
stories, too, of him working. One case, although he’s
not the only painter who’s described as doing this. Whereas a plastered wall,
it’s got rough plaster, and he says leave it rough. And then, he takes rags
dipped in ink washes, and he just brushes the whole wall. And then the witnesses say,
wow, magically before our eyes, we see this whole world
of peaks and waterfalls and streams emerge and so on. Yes, there emerges
a hierarchy value. The 10th and 11th
century is the moment when this kind of painting,
landscape painting, emerges into prominence. Prior to that, the
prominent sorts of subjects were figure paintings
of various kinds. Buddhist paintings, Daoist religious
images, and Confucian sages. There’s a didactic component that’s
important to the figure painting. Certain kinds of narratives,
whether they’re poetic or they’re didactic or whatnot. A lot of these paintings,
unfortunately, don’t survive. But we have records of them,
written records, that tell us. So 10th or 11th
century is the moment when landscape painting
emerges as becoming, perhaps for a while anyway, the
most important subject matter for painters. Still life isn’t a
subject matter in China. There are other kinds of images
of flowers and so on and so forth. And actually in the 11th century
is when they start to emerge, also, is important. But none of those painting survive. Generally, you have
imperial court painters who are painting some of these. Bamboo in a grand scale
and birds and flowers for special occasions and whatnot. So those are also
important in this period. But then you also have the scholar
officials of the 11th century are serving in the
imperial government. Not as painters, not as artists. But they’re also formulating
their own aesthetic. They ‘re the ones who start
to paint on paper, focusing on smaller, more intimate images. Also with ink with a little color,
bamboo, plum blossoms, and things like that. They’re actually– because they’re
also the art writers there, the history of that
tradition becomes dominant. In actual practice,
on the other hand, historically, the
scholar officials are competing with a market
for other kinds of painting which are far more popular. They’re never really written out
until you get to the 17th century, and you get things like the
Mustard Seed Garden Manuel and that sort of thing. But even then, that’s not quite
the same thing as what I’m doing. But there’s this notion
of, you can learn how to paint by mastering
all these patterns. But that’s already a
culmination of something that’s happening in the Ming
dynasty where this is pastiche. And the better artists, all
these references to the past, and to poetry, and
so on and so forth. But what I’ve laid
out here, you will not find written anywhere in
any primary source text. Or even any secondary source text. Nobody else is writing
about this sort of thing. It’s thinking about individuation
from the autonomous individual. But basically, a
chorus of musicians is made up of particular individuals. A choir singing is that particular
choir singing that particular music at that particular moment. And it sounds that way because those
particular people are singing it. Right? So it’s not that this is
a tradition about erasing the uniqueness of people. It’s actually about– people
were saying last night– this is actually the uniqueness of
who you are contributes to this. It’s Guo Xi’s contributing and being
part of this continuous fabric. And the continuous
fabric is alive by virtue of the uniqueness of the
persons who constitute it. And that’s really
what that mountain is. That particular painting,
that particular mountain is those particular events
that are happening together. So it’s not that. And so it isn’t contradictory. It seems that way because this
is how we often read China. So China’s all about– look at
the architecture, the copying of the masters, faithful to
the repetition of tradition. There’s no room for individuality. But at least ideally, the
individual counts for everything. Because you can’t have a
group without its individuals. You can’t have China without its
unique individuals participating. That’s what life is. So all of us working together
in our particularity, offering our particular
contributions to each other, and allowing each other
to offer our differences and particularities to us. And that’s collaboration. And that’s really what Chinese art,
in its ideal practice, is about. All right. I think that’s it. Well, thank you very much.

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