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Landscape of the Soul

Objectives
• The difference between Western and Eastern Painting (European & Chinese)
• Tales from the East
• Tales from the West
• Outsider Art
• Shanshui
• Daoism
• The Emperor and the Artist

1 mark
How has the worth of Nek Chand’s work been recognized abroad?
Nek Chand has been honoured by the Swiss Commission for UNESCO. A five
month interactive show ‘Realm of Nek Chand’, was held in the leading museums
of Switzerland, Belgium, France and Italy. The fiftieth issue of Raw Vision, a
U.K based magazine features Nek Chand and his Rock Garden Sculpture
‘Women by the Waterfall’, on its anniversary issue cover.

Describe the painting made by Wu Daozi for the Emperor Xuanzong.


The painting made by Wu Daozi was meant to decorate the Palace Wall. It had a
wandering scene, forests, mountains, waterfalls and clouds, men on hilly paths
and birds in flight. The painting also depicted a cave and Wu Daozi told the
Emperor that there lived a spirit in that cave.

2 marks
Give three points of contrast between a Classical Chinese landscape and a
Western one.
• Firstly, a classical Chinese landscape is not meant to reproduce an actual
view as would a western figurative painting.
• Secondly, the Chinese painter does not use a single viewpoint while the
western painter wants you to borrow his eyes and look at a painting exactly as he
saw it from a specific angle.
• Thirdly, you can enter a Chinese landscape from any point but in western art
you cannot do that.

How does Nathalie Trouveroy define the role of man?


Nathalie feels that the role of man is a fundamental one. In the space between
heaven and earth, man becomes the conduit of communication between both
poles of the Universe. His presence is most essential. He is the ‘eye of the
landscape’.

How would you classify ‘art’ on the basis of your reading the chapter
‘Landscape of the Soul’?
On the basis of reading of the chapter, ‘art’ can be classified into ‘raw art’ i.e.
works or art created by an untrained artist and ‘realistic and figurative paintings’
created by artists who are trained painters.
Contrast the Chinese view of art with the European view with examples?
The Chinese view of art is not meant to reproduce an actual view and doesn’t
choose a single view point. His landscape is not a real one and you can interact
with it from any point. The artist creates a path from your eyes to travel up and
down. The European painter wants you to borrow his eyes and look at a
particular landscape exactly as he saw it from a specific angle. The European
paintings reproduce an actual view of a real object.

What do you understand by the term ‘Outsider art’ and ‘art brut’ or ‘raw
art’?
‘Outsider art’ is described as the art of those who have no right to be artists as
they have received no formal training yet show talent and artistic insight. The
style of ‘raw art’ refers to works that are in their raw state. Anything and
everything from a tin to a sink to a broken down car could be material for a work
of art.

What role do such stories play in China’s classical education?


These stories which are found in plenty in China's classical education. They are
also in the books of Confucius and Zhuangzi. They help the master to guide his
disciple in the right direction. They reveal the spirit in which art was considered.

Which is the ‘third element’ where the interaction between Yang and Yin
takes place? How is it essential in Daoism?
The ‘third element’ is the middle void where the interaction between Yang and
Yin takes place. It is like the Yogic practice of ‘pranayama’ where meditation
occurs. It is essential in Daoism as it is the fundamental notion of Daoism.

Why does Nathalie Trouveroy mention Quinten’s trick?


Nathalie Trouveroy mentions Quinten’s trick to prove that each art form tries to
achieve a perfect illusionistic likeness. Quinten painted the fly on the painting so
realistically that the master thought it real and tried to swat it away. Hence, the
example is given to prove the point that illusionistic likeness enabled Quinten to
marry the master’s daughter.

Which element is often overlooked? How is it essential?


The element which is often overlooked is the third element, the Middle Void. It
is essential because the interaction takes place in it. It can be compared to Yogic
Practice Pranayama, breathe in, retain, breathe out – the suspension breath is the
Void where meditation occurs. Nothing can happen without it. Hence, it is
important in Chinese art.

“Let me show the way”, said Wu Daozi. Explain how the author interprets
the word ‘way’?
The word ‘way’ is the ‘way within’. ‘Dao’ means both the path or the method
and the mysterious works of the Universe. The painting is gone, but the artist has
reached his goal – beyond any material appearance.

How does the Chinese story present the powers and limitations of the
Emperor and the painter?
The power and limitations of the Emperor were that he commissioned the
painting and appreciated its outer appearance. He may rule over the conquered
territory but only the artist knows the way within. On the other hand the painter
in the story has tried to achieve the essence of inner life and spirit in Asia.

What happened to the painter as he entered the cave?


As the painter entered the cave, the entrance of the cave closed behind him and
before the astonished Emperor could react, the painting disappeared from the
wall. Neither the painter Wu Daozi, nor his brush could be seen again.

Why did the painter not draw the eye of the dragon he had painted? How
far do you agree with him?
The painter did not draw the eye of the dragon he had painted for fear of it flying
out of the painting. I do not agree with him because a painting would look more
realistic if he had painted the entire dragon with all its organs also in the
painting.

What did the painter Wu Daozi tell the Emperor about the cave?
Wu Daozi told the Emperor that in the cave, at the foot of the mountain, there
dwelt a spirit. He clapped his hands and further added that the inside of the cave
was splendid beyond anything words could convey. He requested the Emperor to
allow him to show him the way.

Who was the “untutored genius who created a paradise” and what is the
nature of his contribution to art?
The 80 year old creator-director Nek Chand who sculpted the rock Garden with
stone and recycled material at Chandigarh is the untutored genius of the paradise.
This act is recognized as India’s biggest contribution to outside art.

Explain the concept of Shanshui?


Shanshui literally means ‘mountain water'. These two elements ‘mountain’ and
‘water’ represent two complimentary poles of the universe - Yang & Yin. The
mountain is 'yang' reaching vertically towards heaven -stable, warm and dry in
the sun while the water is 'yin', horizontal ‘resting on the earth fluid, moist and
cool'. The interaction of Yin the receptive feminine aspect of universal energy
and its counter part Yang active and masculine part is the concept of Shanshui.

10 marks
“The Landscape is an inner one, a spiritual and conceptual space”.
Discuss.
Nathalie explains to the readers that a classical Chinese landscape is not meant to
reproduce an actual view as would a Western figurative painting. The European
painter aims at creating an illusionary likeness while the Asian artists make an
attempt to capture the essence of inner life and spirit. A Chinese painter does not
feel that a landscape is a real one. He does not choose a single view point. Hence
we can view his landscape from various angles and enter and travel in it from
any point.
The Chinese artist creates a path for our eyes to travel up and down and then
back again, in a leisurely movement. These paintings require the active
participation of the viewer. This participation is physical as well as mental. We
are required to enter the mind of the painter as well to see and admire the
painting. If we understand the ideals that motivate the painter, we can understand
true essence of a painting. It is because of this that we can say that his landscape
is an inner one --a spiritual and conceptual space.

The emperor may rule over the territory he has conquered, but only the
artist knows the way within. Discuss.
An emperor represents power, authority and will. His wish becomes a command
and his command rules his territory. An emperor is also powerful enough to
obtain the services of an artist. Acquisition of wealth, power and objects doesn’t
make him superior to the artist. On the other hand, an artist has a spiritual insight
into the nature of things. His paintings are deeply revealing of the spirit that
constitutes his art. An artist achieves the perfect essence of inner life and spirit.
An emperor may commission a painting and appreciate its outer appearance, but
the artists’ reveals to him the true meaning of his work. It is only the artist who
knows the way within the territory that the emperor has conquered. The way
means both the path or the method and the mysterious work of the Universe. An
artist’s vision helps the emperor understand and attain the goal of life, that is,
spiritual space. Thus the emperor may rule territories, objects and materialistic
space, but an artist is spiritual and beyond any material appearance.