Landscape Of The Soul Study Material
1. Which parts of the landscape, painted by Wu Daozi, did the Emperor admire and how long?
Ans. The Emperor watched the painting for a long while. He admired the wonderful scene painted by Wu Daozi. He discovered forests, high mountains, waterfalls, clouds floating in the vast sky, men on hilly paths and birds in flight.
2. What did the painter (Wu Daozi) tell the Emperor about the cave?
Ans. The painter told the Emperor that a spirit lived in the cave which was at the foot of the mountain. As he clapped his hands, the entrance to the cave opened. He told the Emperor that the inside of the cave was splendid and offered to show His Majesty the way.
3. What happened to the painter as he entered the cave?
Ans. As the painter entered the cave, the entrance to the cave closed behind him. The Emperor was surprised. Before he could move or speak a word, the painting had disappeared from the wall. There was not even a brush mark left there. The artist (Wu Daozi) was never seen again in the world.
4. Why, do you think, China’s classical education included stories having deep spiritual significance?
Ans. Stories having deep spiritual significance helped the master to guide his disciple in the right direction. The books of great men like Confucious and Zhuangzi are full of them. These stories narrate tales and reveal the spirit in which art was considered at that time.
5. Why did the painter not draw the eye of the dragon he had painted? How far do you agree with him?
Ans. The painter feared that if he drew the eye of the dragon he had painted, the picture would be complete and the dragon might come alive. Then it might fly out of the painting. Since the vision of the artist is spiritual, we agree with him.
6. Why does Nathalie Trouveroy mention Quinten’s trick?
Ans. The writer mentions Quinten’s trick to highlight the aim of art in Europe. The European painters try to achieve a perfect, illusionistic likeness. Quinten had painted a fly with such delicate realism that even the master took it for a real one.
7. How does the Chinese story present the powers and limitations of the Emperor and the painter?
Ans. The Emperor may commission a painting and appreciate its outer appearance, but only the artist reveals to him the true meaning of his work. Secondly, the Emperor may rule
over the region, he has conquered, but only the artist knows the way within.
8. ‘‘Let me show the way’’, said Wu Daozi. Explain how the author interprets the word ‘way’.
Ans. The word ‘way’ according to the author has two meanings, (i) path or the method, and (ii) the mysterious works of the universe. The painter tells the king the path to the cave or the method to reach the cave. By entering the cave and disappearing from the world, he explains the mysterious works of the universe.
9. Give three points of contrast between a classical Chinese landscape and a Western One.
Ans. A Western landscape reproduces an actual view whereas a classical Chinese landscape does not. The European painter wants the viewer to look at a particular landscape exactly as he saw it, from a specific angle, the Chinese painter does not choose a single viewpoint. The Chinese landscape is not a real one like the western one, but an inner one, a spiritual and conceptual space.
10. What do you learn about the Daoist view of the universe from this chapter?
Ans. Daoism recognises two contrasting but complementary elements in the universe namely ‘Yang’ and ‘Yin’. ‘Yang’ is active, masculine, stable, warm and dry whereas ‘yin’ is receptive, feminine, fluid, moist and cool. The interaction of ‘Yang’ and ‘Yin’ is a fundamental notion of Daoism.
11. Which element is often overlooked? How is it essential?
Ans. The Middle void is the third element which is often overlooked. This is essential because the interaction between ‘Yang’ and ‘Yin’ takes place there. Nothing can happen without the middle void. It is as important as the suspension of breath in ‘pranayama’. Meditation occurs only in the void when we retain breath.
12. How does Nathalie Trouveroy define the role of Man?
Ans. The writer assigns a fundamental role to Man. In the space between Heaven and Earth, he becomes the medium of communication between poles of the Universe. His presence is essential as he is ‘‘the eye of the landscape’’. He occupies an important position in the universe. He is not lost or oppressed by the lofty peaks.
13. How would you classify ‘art’ on the basis of your reading the chapter ‘Landscape of the Soul’?
Ans. We may classify art, i.e. paintings and sculpture broadly as ‘mainstream’ offerings and ‘outsider art’. Whereas the former are products of trained artists, the latter are the works of those who have received no formal training, yet show talent and artistic insight. It is the art of the untrained visionary.
14. ‘How has the worth of Nek Chand’s work been recognised abroad?
Ans. Nek Chand’s work is now recognised as India’s biggest contribution to ‘outsider art’. RRevision a UK-based magazine which is a pioneer in outsider art publication has Nek Chand and his Rock Garden sculpture ‘Women by the waterfall’ on the cover of its 50th issue. UNESCO is organising a five-month interactive show of his works.
15. How has Nek Chand followed the notions of ‘art brut’ or ‘raw art’ in his works?
Ans. The ‘art brut’ or ‘raw art’ are the works of art in their raw state as regards cultural and artistic influences. Anything and everything from tin to sink to a broken down car could be material for a work of art. Nek Chand has sculpted a garden with stone and recycled material.
B. LONG ANSWER TYPE QUESTIONS (Answer in 100-125 words)
1. How does the Chinese view of art differ from The European view? Illustrate your answer with examples.
Ans. Western figurative painting is meant to reproduce an actual view of the scene whereas a classical Chinese landscape is based on an imaginative, inner or spiritual approach. The Chinese art aims at achieving the essence of inner life and spirit while the European form of art is trying to achieve a perfect illusionistic likeness. The European painter wants the viewer to borrow his eyes and look at a particular landscape exactly as he saw it, from a specific angle. On the other hand, the Chinese painter does not choose a single viewpoint. His landscape is not a real one. He does not want the viewer to borrow his eyes. He wants the beholder to enter his mind. One can enter a Chinese landscape from any point and move across leisurely and come back. The Chinese view of art also requires the active participation of the viewer. This participation is both physical and mental. The stories about the paintings of Wu Daozi and an old story from Flanders amply illustrate the difference.
2. Explain the concept of Shanshui and the fundamental notions of Daoism.
Ans. ‘Shanshui’ is a Chinese word. It literally means ‘mountain-water’. The two elements used together represent the word ‘landscape’. Mountain and water are two elements of an image. They also reflect the Daoist view of the universe. The mountain is ‘Yang’ whereas water is ‘Yin’. The mountain rises vertically towards Heaven. Mountain is stable, warm and dry in the sun. Water is horizontal and rests on the Earth. Water is fluid, moist and cool. ‘Yin’ is the receptive and feminine aspect of universal energy. ‘Yang’ is its complementary part. ‘Yang’ is active and masculine. The interaction of ‘Yin’ and ‘Yang’ is a fundamental notion of Daoism. There is an essential third element also. It is the Middle Void where the interaction takes place. This Middle Void is essential. Nothing can happen without it. The concept of the Middle Void can be made clear by comparison to the yogic practice of pranayama. We breathe in, retain breath and breathe out. The suspension of breath is the Void where meditation occurs. Hence the white, unpainted space has special importance in Chinese landscape
3. Man is ‘‘the eye of the landscape’’ says Francois Cheng. Discuss this concept on the basis of reading ‘Landscape of the soul’.
Ans. The role of man in this universe can be explained with the help of the Daoist view of the universe. Daoism recognises two contrasting but complementary elements in the universe. These are called ‘Yang’ and ‘Yin’. ‘Yang’ is active, masculine, stable, warm and dry whereas ‘yin’ is receptive, feminine, moist and cool. The interaction of ‘Yang’ and ‘Yin’ occurs in the Middle Void. Hence this Middle Void is essential as nothing can happen without it. The importance of man and his fundamental role in the universe can be explained in the light of Daoism. Man exists in the space between Heaven and Earth. He is the medium of communication between both poles of the universe, even if it is only suggested. He occupies an important position in the universe. He is not lost or oppressed by the lofty peaks. Man’s presence is essential as he is the most important feature or the ‘eye’ of the landscape. We cannot see without the eye. Similarly, the universe is incomplete without a man.
4. What do you understand by ‘outsider art’? Write a note on worldwide recognition of Nek Chand’s contribution to outsider art.
Ans. ‘Outsider art’ refers to the art of those who have no right to be artists as they have received no formal training, yet show talent and artistic insight. Sh. Nek Chand has won worldwide recognition for his unique contribution to outsider art. Using stone and recycled material he has created many sculptures at Rock Garden, Chandigarh. Nek Chand’s work is now recognised as India’s biggest contribution to outsider art. ‘Raw Vision’ a U.K. based magazine, a pioneer in outsider art publication has featured Nek Chand and his Rock Garden sculpture ‘Women by the Waterfall’ on the title cover of its 50th issue (Spring 2005). His art has been acclaimed as ‘‘an outstanding testimony of the difference a single man can make when he lives his dream’’. The Swiss Commissioner for UNESCO has honoured him by organising a five-month interactive show called. ‘Realm of Nek Chand’. In short, Nek Chand has taken outsider art to dizzying heights and richly deserves the worldwide acclaim.