Understanding the text
(i) Contrast the Chinese view of art with the European with examples.
Answer The Chinese view of art is trying to achieve the essence of inner life and spirit. E.g., Wu Dazoi’s painting, which was commissioned by the emperor Xuanzong. While the emperor could only appreciate its outer brilliance, the artist entered his painting and disappeared alongwith his painting. This showed that emperor might have ruled his dynasty but the artist knew the ways within.
The European view of art is to create illusionistic likeness. E.g., in 15th century a blacksmith had fallen in love with a painter’s daughter. The father would not give his consent. The blacksmith entered the painter’s studio and painted a fly on his latest panel with such realism that the painter almost swat it away before he realised what had happened. The painter then got his daughter married to him.
(ii) Explain the concept of Shanshui.
Answer Shanshui literally means ‘mountain water’, which when used together represents the word ‘landscape’. It reflects Daoist view of the universe which constitutes more than two elements of an image – Yang, the mountain, Yin – the water and the third element – middle void where the interaction of the mountain and water takes place.
Question 2. (i) What do you understand by the term ‘outsider art’ and ‘art brut’ on ‘raw art’?
Answer : The ‘outsider art’ is the art of those people who have no right to be the artists as they have received no formal training, yet they show talent and artistic insight.
The notion of ‘art brut’ or ‘raw art’ was of works that were in their raw state as regards cultural and artistic influence. Anything and everything from a tin to a sink to a broken car could be material for a work of art.
(ii) Who was the untutored genius who created a paradise and what is the nature of his contribution to art?
Answer : Nek Chand is the untutored genius who created a paradise years ago. The little patch of a jungle that he began clearing to make himself a garden, sculpted with stone and recycled material is known to the world as the ‘Rock Garden’ at Chandigarh. Nek Chand has taken the notion of raw art to dizzying heights. His art is, ‘‘an outstanding testimony of the difference a single man can make when he lives his dream’’.
Talking about the text
Discuss the following
Question 1. The emperor may rule over the territory he has conquered, but only the artist knows the way within.
Answer The wonderful tale about the Chinese painter Wu Daozi proves the above statement substantially. His beautiful painting was commissioned by the emperor Xuanzong. When the painting was completed, the artist called the emperor to see. While the emperor was awed by its outer brilliance, the artist entered the painting and disappeared alongwith it, never to return. The tale denotes only the figurative meaning. For anyone to order for a beautiful creation is not a big deal but it is only the creator who understands its true beauty.
There is another way of interpreting this statement. While the emperors rule their territory, the artist transcends the boundaries and by the sheer beauty of his creations makes himself understand the universe. A great artist shows the way to go beyond any material appearance.
Question 2. The landscape is an inner one, a spiritual and conceptual place.
Answer The beauty of a creation can be understood in the truest sense by the mind and the heart, and not by the eyes alone. Only if one understands or reads the artist’s mind, one can appreciate his work. A true artist does not want people to look at his art only from his angle. He gives them the freedom to interpret his work according to their own understanding.
The landscape is an inner one, a spiritual and conceptual place according to Shanshui, which is based on Daoist view. It is an interaction between Yang mountain and Yin water, and this interaction takes place in the middle void. This middle void is generally shown by the white or unpainted space. The role of the man also comes into play. He is the receiver of this communication and imagines or interprets this by his own understanding and becomes the ‘eye of the landscape’.