Q. Contrast the Chinese view of art with the European view with examples.
Ans. The Chinese view of art is different from the European view of art. The Chinese view is spiritual one while the European view is entirely illusionistic. Chinese paintings reveal the spirit of art while European paintings are perfect imitations of nature. In the Chinese painting the painter can take the Emperor in a cave in the landscape where the inside is beyond anything that words can convey. On the other hand, in the European painting a painter paints a fly exactly like a real fly. The master was pleased and allowed his daughter to marry the man she wanted.
Q. Explain the concept of ‘Shanshui’.
Ans. A classical Chinese landscape is not meant to reproduce an actual view. To appreciate a Chinese painting one needs to enter the mind of the painter. The landscape is inner and spiritual. The concept is expressed as “Shanshui”, meaning ‘mountain water‘. It represents the word ‘landscape‘. The mountain is ‘Yang‘ the symbol of reaching vertically toward heaven. It is dry and warm. Water is ‘Yin‘ which is horizontally flowing on earth and is cool and moist. The interaction of both is the fundamental notion of Daosim. But there is also a third element which is always overlooked. It is the middle void where the interaction of ‘Yang‘ and ‘Yin‘ takes place. This concept can be compared with the yogic practice of ‘pranayama‘—breath in, retain, and breath out. The suspension of breath is the void. Here meditation takes place.
Q. What do you understand by their terms ‘outsider art’ and ‘art brut’ or ‘raw art’?
Ans. Outsider art is a type of art practised by those who have no formal training of art and inspite of it, they show an artistic insight.
Q. Who was the ‘untutored genius who created a paradise’ and what is the nature of his contribution to art?
Ans. 80 year old Nek Chand was an untutored genius who created the ‘paradise.’ He created a garden sculpted with stones and recycled material which is known as the Rock Garden, at Chandigarh.
Q. “The Emperor may rule over the territory he has conquered, but only the artists knows the way within.”
Ans. Everything has two aspects like the two sides of a coin. We find the outer material a form that can be seen by everyone. There are beautiful trees, rivers, birds, mountains and stars. Ordinary people do not look beyond the outer form. But there is a spirit within that cannot be easily seen. But artists, poets, saints and philosophers have aspiritual vision to grasp the beauty of the soul. We often read poems about things that seem commonplace to an ordinary person. But the poet hears the music in the blowing of winds, falling of rain, twinkling of stars and runnings streams. Wordsworth could see every object of nature covered with a heavenly light. The painting of Monalisa is well known who was an ordinary woman but was caught in a special significance by the painter. He painted her on the canvas and it has intrigued generations of people to know what was at the back of her mind. No one knew it. Even the king could not tell.
Q. “The Landscape is an inner one, a spiritual and conceptual space.”
Ans. Classical Chinese paintings differ from the Western paintings. The Western artist reproduces a realistic picture of what he sees. He expects the viewer to see it as he sees it. But the Chinese painter does not reproduces the real scene. He visualises it in his own way. He paints a picture for the viewer and expects him to try to understand the spirit. Landscape was his concept. It was his vision of it. He put that vision on the canvas.