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Landscape of the Soul | NCERT Solution

Lesson Architecture

  • Theme

  • Story-At-A-Glance

  • NCERT Solution

  • Extra Questions

Theme:

  • In this lesson the writer contrasts Chinese paintings with the Western counterparts.

  • Using anecdotes, she brings out the uniqueness of the spiritual landscapes of the Chinese and the figurative paintings based on ‘delicate realism, practiced by the Europeans.

  • However, man has a universal role in them which is fundamental to their expression and hence he makes the landscape of the soul complete.

Plot Development

  • The writer draws a unique contrast between the Western from of landscape painting with the Chinese form and concludes that the western painters reproduce an actual view.

  • They try to achieve ‘illusionistic likeness’ in their figurative paintings. But for the Oriental painter, the essence of the inner life and spirit is of utmost importance.

  • For them, it is not a landscape of outward images, but a landscape of the soul.

Reference of Chinese Art:

  • Once a Chinese Emperor got a landscape painted to decorate a palace wall.

  • The Emperor admired the wonderful painting which included forests, mountains, waterfalls, clouds and the immense sky.

  • Drawing the Emperor’s attention to a cave in the painting, the painter told him that a spirit dwelt there.

  • As the painter clapped his hands, the door to the cave opened up. The painter volunteered to show the way to the Emperor and thus stepped in.

  • The door closed behind him and even before the Emperor could even react, the painting disappeared from the wall. The artist could never be traced again.

  • There is another story of a painter who hesitated to draw the eye of a dragon he had painted for fear that it would fly out of the painting.

  • Stories of such types are often found in books of Confucius and Zhuangzi and help in guiding students in the right direction.

  • They also reveal the ethos of great works of art.

  • These stories are in contrast with those of the West, as is evident in the story from the author’s native Flanders, which represents Western paintings.


Reference of Western Art

  • The example of outward realism is found in European art which is described in the anecdote of a blacksmith named Quinten hailing from Antwerp in Belgium.

  • He fell in love with a painter’s daughter, but the painter was against this alliance as he did not approve of Quinten’s profession.

  • One day Quinten entered the painter’s studio and painted a fly on the artist’s latest painting. It appeared so life-like that it deceived the artist who gave it a hard blow only to realize that it was not a real one.

  • He was highly impressed with Quinten and took him as an apprentice. Quinten went on to become one of the most renowned painters of his age.

  • These stories illustrate the varying approach and sense of achievement of painters belonging to East and West through the medium of art.

  • In contrast to Chinese painting which try to bring out the eseence of inner life and spirit, the Western/ European art projects a perfect ‘illusionistic likeness.

Concept of ‘Dao’- the mysterious works of the Universe

  • In the Chinese story, the landscape painting is admired for its outward appearance by the Emperor who got it painted.

  • But the artist shows the true meaning of his work.

  • While the Emperor rules his kingdom, the artist knows the way into his painting.

  • This ‘way’ or ‘path’ within the painting is the ‘Dao’ -the mysterious works of the Universe.

  • The soul of the artist merges with the essence of his work.

Chinese Landscape Painting Versus Western Painting:

  • Classical Chinese landscape painting does not focus on realism or the actual view unlike the Western painting which is figurative or symbolic.

  • European painters depict the actual landscape with delicate realism and the painter would like the viewers to look at it from his perspective from a specific angle.

  • On the contrary, the Chinese paintings allow the freedom to view from any angle, back and forth, in a leisurely movement.

  • This freedom of movement if enhanced in a horizontal scroll where the viewer can choose the speed and section of viewing, thus adding a dimension of time, not known to any other form of painting.

  • The Chinese painter does not want anyone to borrow his eyes. He wants the viewers to enter his mind. The landscape is his inner mind, a spiritual and conceptual space.

The Concept of ‘Shanshui’

  • Chinese Paintings develop on the concept of ‘Shanshui’, which means ‘mountain-water’. The mountain rises vertically to heaven and it is called ‘Yang’.

  • On the other hand, water is horizontal and resting on the earth, which is called ‘Yin’.

  • There is also the presence of a third element which is often overlooked. It is called the ‘Middle Void’.

  • Yang and Yin are not opposites. They complement each other.

  • ‘Yang’ is active and masculine. ‘Yin’ is feminine and the receptive concept of energy.

  • Their interaction takes place in the Middle Void which is depicted by the unpainted white space in Chinese landscape.

  • It is similar to the holding of the breath in the Yogic practice of ‘pranayama.’

  • Similarly, man plays a fundamental role as a channel of communication between the Heaven and Earth. His presence, therefore, is essential because he is ‘the eye of the landscape.’

Concept of ‘Outsider Art’

  • ‘Outsider Art’ or ‘art brut’ is a concept presented by a French painter named Jean Dubuffet in 1940s.

  • It is the art of those artistes who have received no formal training, yet show immense talent and artistic insight.

  • This form of art has seen rapid growth internationally in the contemporary art world.

  • The style of art which belongs to this category of artists is unconventional and is described to belong to those who have ‘no right’ to be artists because they have had no formal training even though they show immense talent and artistic insight.

  • However, their works stimulate the viewer much more than the ones done by trained professionals.

Reference of Indian ‘Outsider Art’

  • During the same time as Dubuffet, a French Painter presented Outsider Art in the West, an untutored genius in India was creating paradise sculpted on stone and recycled material.

  • Known to the world as the ‘Rock Garden’ of Chandigarh, its creator Nek Chand is hailed as the ‘Rock Garden’ of Chandigarh, its creator Nek Chand is hailed as India’s biggest contributor to ‘Outsider art.’

  • He received various awards and acclamations across the glove.

  • A UK based magazine pioneering outsider art publication featured Nek Chand and his Rock Garden sculpture on their anniversary issue cover.

  • As regards to artistic and cultural influences, ‘art brut’ or raw art are works in the raw state.

  • Anything from a tin to a sink to a broken down car could become a part of this art form. This has been shown in the marvelous work of Nek Chand.

  • Recognizing his outstanding example of converting dream to reality, the Swiss Commission for UNESCO honoured him by exhibiting his works through Europe.

  • A five month long interactive show, ‘Realm of Nek Chand’ began in October 2005 at all leading museums in Switzerland, Belgium, France and Italy. However, to Nek Chand, the greatest satisfaction and reward is walking through his garden and seeing people enjoy his creations.

Recapitulation:

  • Chinese painter Wu Daozi made a landscape painting for the emperor’s palace wall.

  • The emperor was highly impressed by the natural elements in the painting. The painter showed a cave in the painting and drawing the Emperor’s attention to a cave in the painting, the painter told him that a spirit dwelt there. He entered the cave and never returned to this world.

  • Chinese painters emphasize on artistic insight on the inner soul of art. Western painters, on the other hand, emphasize on illusionistic likeness making it true to life.

  • Shanshui is the fundamental concept of Daoism. Shanshui means mountain-water. The mountain is Yang while water is Yin. Yang vertically rises up and is warm, stable and dry. Yin is feminine, horizontal and resting on the earth. It is fluid, moist and cool.

  • There is middle void where Yang and Yin meet. It is a very important part and is represented as the White, unpainted space in Chinese paintings.

  • In the empty space between Heaven and Earth, man plays fundamental role as a channel of communication. Man is thus considered the ‘eye of the landscape’.

  • The concept of ‘art brut’ or ‘raw art’ was first brought in by French painter Jean Dubuffet. Otherwise known as ‘outsider art’ it is the category of artists who have not received any formal training, but show immense talent and artistic insight.

  • India’s greatest contributor to ‘outsider art’ has been Nek Chand, creator of the Rock Garden in Chandigarh.

  • He used all imaginable recycled material and gave creativity a new dimension. He received international fame and recognition.


NCERT Solution


Notice these expressions in the text. Infer their meaning from the context. (Page 34)


· Anecdote: a short entertaining story about a real incident or person.

· Delicate realism: intricately accurate and true to life.

· Figurative painting: representing by means of a figure of a or symbol in the painting.

· Illusionistic likeness: a similarity which is almost real.

· Conceptual space: an abstract idea of a space.


Understanding the Text ( Page 38)


1. (i) Contrast the Chinese view of art with the European view with examples.


The Chinese focuses on the essence of inner life and spirit in their paintings, whereas the Europeans try to achieve a perfect ‘illusionistic likeness’ or the actual image.


An example to illustrate the above statement regarding Chinese painting is given below.

Once a Chinese Emperor got a landscape painted to decorate a palace wall.


The Emperor admired the wonderful painting which included forests, mountains, waterfalls, clouds and the immense sky. Drawing the Emperor’s attention to a cave in the painting, the painter told him that a spirit dwelt there.As the painter clapped his hands, the door to the cave opened up. The painter volunteered to show the way to the Emperor and thus stepped in. The door closed behind him and even before the Emperor could even react, the painting disappeared from the wall. The artist could never be traced again.


A perfect ‘illusionistic likeness’ or the actual image of the European painting is given below:

The example of outward realism is found in European art which is described in the anecdote of a blacksmith named Quinten hailing from Antwerp in Belgium. He fell in love with a painter’s daughter, but the painter was against this alliance as he did not approve of Quinten’s profession.One day Quinten entered the painter’s studio and painted a fly on the artist’s latest painting. It appeared so life-like that it deceived the artist who gave it a hard blow only to realize that it was not a real one.He was highly impressed with Quinten and took him as an apprentice. Quinten went on to become one of the most renowned painters of his age. These stories illustrate the varying approach and sense of achievement of painters belonging to East and West through the medium of art.


(ii) Explain the concept of shanshui.


Ans: Chinese Paintings develop on the concept of ‘Shanshui’, which means ‘mountain-water’. The mountain rises vertically to heaven and it is called ‘Yang’. On the other hand, water is horizontal and resting on the earth, which is called ‘Yin’. There is also the presence of a third element which is often overlooked. It is called the ‘Middle Void’. ‘Yang and Yin are not opposites. They complement each other. ‘Yang’ is active and masculine. ‘Yin’ is feminine and the receptive concept of energy.


Their interaction takes place in the Middle Void which is depicted by the unpainted white space in Chinese landscape. It is similar to the holding of the breath in the Yogic practice of ‘pranayama.’


Similarly, man plays a fundamental role as a channel of communication between the Heaven and Earth. His presence, therefore, is essential because he is ‘the eye of the landscape.’


2. (i) What do you understand by the terms ‘outsider art’ and ‘art brut’ or ‘raw art’?


Ans: ‘Outsider Art’ is a concept presented by a French painter named Jean Dubuffet in 1940s. It is the art of those artistes who have received no formal training, yet show immense talent and artistic insight.


This form of art has seen rapid growth internationally in the contemporary art world. The style of art which belongs to this category of artists is unconventional and is described to belong to those who have ‘no right’ to be artists because they have had no formal training even though they show immense talent and artistic insight. However, their works stimulate the viewer much more than the ones done by trained professionals.

‘Art Brut’ or Raw Art are works that are in the unrefined state as regards artistic and cultural influence. Anything and everything, from a tin or a sink or a broken down car or any recycled matter can be used as material in this art form. A marvelous example of raw art is seen in the Rock Garden of Chandigarh created by the untutored genius, Nek Chand.

(ii) Who was the “untutored genius who created a paradise” and what is the nature of his contribution to art?

Nek Chand, an Indian hailing from Chandigarh, took his style of raw art to an unimaginable level of excellence. He cleared a little patch of jungle to make himself a garden sculpted with stone and recycled material. This became the renowned ‘Rock garden’ of Chandigarh and Nek Chand is recognized as India’s biggest contributor to outsider art. He used everything from broken pieces of cups, bangles, tins and even run down vehicles as material for his garden.

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