English CBSE Class 11 NCERT Hornbill Chapter 4 Landscape of the Soul Line by Line Explanation and Meaning of Difficult Words
LANDSCAPE OF THE SOUL
Author – Nathalie Trouveroy
Notice these expressions in the text. Infer their meaning from the context.
|Anecdote||A short story, Incident|
|delicate realism||Almost real|
|figurative painting||Painting derived from real object|
|illusionistic likeness||Imaginary thing that looks almost real|
|conceptual space||Visualisation as per one’s thinking|
A WONDERFUL old tale is told about the painter Wu Daozi, who lived in the eighth century. His last painting was a landscape commissioned by the Tang Emperor Xuanzong, to decorate a palace wall.
In eighth century, there lived a painter by the name of Wu Daozi. A wonderful story is told about him. His last painting was a scenery. It was inaugurated by an Emperor of Tang dynasty whose name was Xuanzong. This painting was drawn on the wall of a palace for decoration.
The master had hidden his work behind a screen, so only the Emperor would see it. For a long while, the Emperor admired the wonderful scene, discovering forests, high mountains, waterfalls, clouds floating in an immense sky, men on hilly paths, birds in flight.
|Master||Highly skilled person, A skilful person|
|For a long while||For a long period of time|
|Immense||Huge, Very large|
The skilful painter had hidden the painting behind a screen. Therefore only the emperor was able to see the painting. For a long time the Emperor stood in front of painting and appreciated the beautiful painting. It had forests that were looking almost real, high mountains, waterfall, clouds floating in huge sky, men walking on paths of hills, and birds flying.
“Look, Sire”, said the painter, “in this cave, at the foot of the mountain, dwells a spirit.” The painter clapped his hands, and the entrance to the cave opened.
|Foot of mountain||Bottom of mountain|
The painter told the king that there is a cave at the foot of the mountain. In this cave a spirit resides. The painter clapped his hands. And the door of the cave opened.
“The inside is splendid, beyond anything words can convey. Please let me show Your Majesty the way.”
|Your Majesty||Respected Sir|
The painter said that the cave is wonderful from inside. Words cannot describe its beauty. He requested permission of the king to show the way to the cave to the King.
The painter entered the cave; but the entrance closed behind him, and before the astonished Emperor could move or utter a word, the painting had vanished from the wall. Not a trace of Wu Daozi’s brush was left — and the artist was never seen again in this world.
|Wu Daozi’s brush||Painting made by Wu Daozi|
The painter entered the cave. The entrance of the cave closed after he had entered the cave. The surprised King wanted to say something. But even before that the painting also disappeared. Every sign or indication of the painting disappeared. The painter was never seen in this world again.
Such stories played an important part in China’s classical education. The books of Confucius and Zhuangzi are full of them; they helped the master to guide his disciple in the right direction.
|Disciple||Pupil, Student, Follower|
Such stores have contributed a lot in conventional education of China. Confucius and Zhuangzi are two great scholars of China. Their books and teachings are full of such stories. They helped a teacher to guide their students in correct direction.
Beyond the anecdote, they are deeply revealing of the spirit in which art was considered. Contrast this story — or another famous one about a painter who wouldn’t draw the eye of a dragon he had painted, for fear it would fly out of the painting — with an old story from my native Flanders that I find most representative of Western painting.
|Anecdote||A short story, Incident|
In addition to being a short stories or incidents, these also indicate feelings of people about the art. There is one more famous story about another painter. He did not make an eye in the painting of dragon. He thought if he made the eye, the dragon would come alive out of the painting. One can compare these stories with an old story from my native place Flanders. This story can be considered an illustrative story of Western style painting.
In fifteenth century Antwerp, a master blacksmith called Quinten Metsys fell in love with a painter’s daughter. The father would not accept a son-in-law in such a profession.
|Blacksmith||One who works on iron|
Antwerp is a town in Belgium. In fifteenth century, there lived a blacksmith whose name was Quinten Metsys. He fell in love with daughter of a painter. But father of the girl was not ready to accept him as his son-in-law because he was a blacksmith.
So Quinten sneaked into the painter’s studio and painted a fly on his latest panel, with such delicate realism that the master tried to swat it away before he realised what had happened.
|Sneaked||Entered without being seen|
|Panel||A frame or area for painting|
|Swat||Hit by a flat object|
Quinten went into the painting room of the painter. The painter had decided an area or had a frame where he was to make a new painting. Quinten drew a fly in that panel. It was so finely drawn that it looked a real fly. The painter tried to kill the fly with a flat object. Then he understood that it was a painting.
Quinten was immediately admitted as an apprentice into his studio. He married his beloved and went on to become one of the most famous painters of his age. These two stories illustrate what each form of art is trying to achieve: a perfect, illusionistic likeness in Europe, the essence of inner life and spirit in Asia.
|Illusionistic||Three dimensional art, Imaginary|
The painter was so impressed that he gave admission to Quinten in his studio as a trainee. Quinten married the girl he loved. He became a famous painter of his era. These two stories represent the difference in type of artwork present in China and in Western countries. The art work in Western countries believed in creating a three dimensional reality. While in China and Asia the main theme was related to inner life and inner feelings.
In the Chinese story, the Emperor commissions a painting and appreciates its outer appearance. But the artist reveals to him the true meaning of his work. The Emperor may rule over the territory he has conquered, but only the artist knows the way within.
In the Chinese story, the Emperor had inaugurated the painting. He appreciated or understood its outer appearance only. But the artist showed him the true meaning of his work. The emperor is certainly the ruler of the area of land he has won. But the inner aspects and peace of life is known only to the artist.
“Let me show the Way”, the ‘Dao’, a word that 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.
|Beyond any material appearance||Beyond physical limits|
The painter had told the Emperor that he would show the path to him. The word ‘Dao’ in the name of the painter. It also means path or the method and the strange works of this Universe. The painting had disappeared. But the artist achieved his goal that was much beyond the physical limits of this Universe.
A classical Chinese landscape is not meant to reproduce an actual view, as would a Western figurative painting. Whereas 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 Chinese painter does not choose a single viewpoint.
|Figurative Painting||Painting derived from real object|
A conventional Chinese painting does not draw the exact view while a Western painting is derived from the real objects as seen. The European painter wants to draw his painting the way he has seen a scene. He wants the viewer of the painting to see exactly what he has seen himself. Chinese painter does not believe that every person should have the same view.
His landscape is not a ‘real’ one, and you can enter it from any point, then travel in it; the artist creates a path for your eyes to travel up and down, then back again, in a leisurely movement.
Hence the painting made by the Chinese painter may not truly represent the current real condition. You can look at his painting from different angle, different perspective and different thought process. Then without any hurry you can look at each portion of the painting. This will help you to understand complete meaning of the painting.
This is even more true in the case of the horizontal scroll, in which the action of slowly opening one section of the painting, then rolling it up to move on to the other, adds a dimension of time which is unknown in any other form of painting.
When a viewer moves his gaze horizontally on the painting, he feels that one section after the other is opening up for his viewing. When he moves his gaze vertically up he feels as if the painting is entering into another time zone. Such feeling is not possible in painting of any other culture.
It also requires the active participation of the viewer, who decides at what pace he will travel through the painting — a participation which is physical as well as mental. The Chinese painter does not want you to borrow his eyes; he wants you to enter his mind. The landscape is an inner one, a spiritual and conceptual space.
|Conceptual space||Understanding, Visualisation as per one’s thinking|
To attain such a deeper understanding, the viewer also needs to actively participate. The viewer decides the speed at which he will view and try to understand. This is physical participation as well as mental participation. The Chinese painter does not want that everybody should see only his view point. He wants that every viewer should exercise his own thought process to understand the painting. The scene or the landscape is seen from the inner feeling and understood as per viewer’s thought process.
This concept is expressed as shanshui, literally ‘mountainwater’ which used together represent the word ‘landscape’. More than two elements of an image, these represent two complementary poles, reflecting the Daoist view of the universe.
The concept of ‘shanshui’ is known as ‘mountainwater’. When these two words are used together its meaning becomes scenery or landscape. These are not merely two aspects of an image. They support each other to represent views of Daoist about the world.
The mountain is Yang — reaching vertically towards Heaven, stable, warm, and dry in the sun, while the water is Yin — horizontal and resting on the earth, fluid, moist and cool.
‘Yang’ represents mountain in Chinese. It rises vertically up towards Heaven. It represents stability, warmth and dryness of the Sun. Water is called ‘yin’ in Chinese. It spreads horizontally on the earth. It represents liquid, moistness and cool.
The interaction of Yin, the receptive, feminine aspect of universal energy, and its counterpart Yang, active and masculine, is of course a fundamental notion of Daoism.
|Receptive||Ready to receive|
Yin is considered a female aspect of the energy of this universe, Yang is considered a male equivalent part of the universal energy. The interaction between two is the fundamental belief of Daoism.
What is often overlooked is an essential third element, the Middle Void where their interaction takes place.
Between these two forces of universe there is a big gap. This gap is the third essential part of the universal energy and it is very often neglected.
This can be compared with the yogic practice of pranayama; breathe in, retain, breathe out — the suspension of breath is the Void where meditation occurs. The Middle Void is essential — nothing can happen without it; hence the importance of the white, unpainted space in Chinese landscape.
This can be compared with vedic practice of pranayama. While doing pranayama one learns technique of breathing in and breathing out. Between these two activities, for a shot while no activity happens. That is the time of true meditation or prayers. This period of no activity is essential. Nothing can happen in this world without it, Therefore Chinese art gives importance to the white unpainted space in the paintings.
This is also where Man finds a fundamental role. In that space between Heaven and Earth, he becomes the conduit of communication between both poles of the Universe.
In this gap or emptiness a human being achieves its basic function. It is considered a place between Heaven and Earth. A human being thus becomes a means of communication between these two parts of universe.
His presence is essential, even if it’s only suggested; far from being lost or oppressed by the lofty peaks, he is, in Francois Cheng’s wonderful expression, “the eye of the landscape”.
|Oppressed||Restrained, Given trouble|
Presence of human being is essential in this universe. Even if it is merely indicated or suggested. Still it would be better than being absent or restrained by the high peaks. A famous Chinese philosopher Francois Cheng has called man “the eye of the landscape”. It is the human being who sees and appreciates the world.
Getting Inside ‘Outsider Art’
Author – Brinda Suri
When French painter Jean Dubuffet mooted the concept of ‘art brut’ in the 1940s, the art of the untrained visionary was of minority interest.
|Art brut||Art by not formally trained artists, Outsider Art|
|Visionary||Person with a dream, Creative|
In 1940 a painter from France Jean Dubuffet started the term ‘art brut’. It means art by an outsider or art by a person who has not received formal training. During that time less number of people took notice of formally untrained but creative people.
From its almost veiled beginnings, ‘outsider art’ has gradually become the fastest growing area of interest in contemporary art internationally.
|Veiled||Behind a screen, Not openly|
|Contemporary||Of the current or present era|
The ‘outsider art’ was initially not practised openly. But gradually people of present era started taking more interest in it even at the international level.
This genre 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. Their works are a stimulating contrast to a lot of mainstream offerings.
|Mainstream||Belonging to main group|
This category of art is from those who do have no right to pursue work of artist because they have not received any formal training. Though they did not receive any training, they have talent and understanding of an artist. Their work is an encouragement or creative. While the work of people belonging to the main group does not have anything new.
Around the time Dubuffet was propounding his concept, in India “an untutored genius was creating paradise”.
|Propounding||Came up with, Offered, Proposed|
|Untutored||Person not taught|
|Paradise||Heaven, Something Marvellous|
While Dubuffet was proposing and explaining his concept about ‘outsider art’ a person who had not received any formal training was creating marvellous art in India.
Years ago the little patch of jungle that he began clearing to make himself a garden sculpted with stone and recycled material is known to the world today as the Rock Garden, at Chandigarh.
|Sculpted||Carved, Formed, Created|
Many years ago he started clearing a small area of jungle. In this area he started installing statues carved out of stone and made by using re-usable material. The whole world knows this as Rock Garden of Chandigarh.
Its 80-year-old creator–director, Nek Chand, is now hailed as India’s biggest contributor to outsider art. The fiftieth issue (Spring 2005) of Raw Vision, a UK-based magazine pioneer in outsider art publications, features Nek Chand, and his Rock Garden sculpture ‘Women by the Waterfall’ on its anniversary issue’s cover.
|Hailed||Regarded, Considered, Appreciated|
|Pioneer||First to do or develop something new|
Nek Chand is the person who created Rock Garden. He is its director also. He is regarded as the biggest contributor from India towards outsider art. Raw Vision magazine of UK is considered as one of the first magazines to publish about outsider art. In its fiftieth issue of Spring 2005, it published the work of Nek Chand. One of the sculpture ‘Women by the Waterfall’ was published on the front page of its anniversary publication.
The notion of ‘art brut’ or ‘raw art’, was of works that were in their raw state as regards cultural and artistic influences. Anything and everything from a tin to a sink to a broken down car could be material for a work of art, something Nek Chand has taken to dizzying heights.
The belief of Nek Chand in ‘raw art’ meant anything that was in the unrefined stage. Something that had not been affected by culture or art. Anything like a tin, a sink or a broken car could be used for making a work of art. Nek Chand developed the art of using waste material to a very high degree.
Recognising his art as “an outstanding testimony of the difference a single man can make when he lives his dream”, the Swiss Commission for UNESCO will be honouring him by way of a European exposition of his works.
|Outstanding||Of very high quality, Brilliant|
The UNESCO Commission in Switzerland has accepted the work of Nek Chand as brilliant work, It said that his work is an evidence about the difference a single man can make when he follows his dreams. To honour Nek Chand, UNESCO will organize an exhibition of his works in Europe.
The five-month interactive show, ‘Realm of Nek Chand’, beginning October will be held at leading museums in Switzerland, Belgium, France and Italy. “The biggest reward is walking through the garden and seeing people enjoy my creation,” Nek Chand says.
This exhibition has been named ‘realms of Nek Chand. The exhibition will be for a period of five months starting from October. The exhibition will be held in the museums of Switzerland, Belgium, France and Italy. Nek Chand says that the biggest reward for him is to see people walking through the Rock Garden to enjoy his sculptures.
The Voice of the Rain
And who art thou? said I to the soft-falling shower,
Which, strange to tell, gave me an answer, as here translated:
I am the Poem of Earth, said the voice of the rain,
|Who art thou||Who are you|
|said I to the soft-falling shower,||Alliteration|
|gave me an answer, as here translated||Alliteration|
|I am the Poem of earth||Metaphor|
|Voice of the rain||Personification|
|said the voice of the rain||Repetition|
The rain was falling slowly and gently. I asked it, “Who are you?” It is quite strange that the rain gave me an answer. And I am reporting the answer through this poem. The voice of the rain said that it was the Poem of Earth.
The phrase ‘Poem of Earth’ can be understood as the beauty of the earth or something essential to earth.
Here the author has imagined rain as a human being so he has said ‘voice of the rain’.
Eternal I rise impalpable out of the land and the bottomless sea,
Upward to heaven, whence, vaguely form’d, altogether changed, and yet the same,
I descend to lave the droughts, atomies, dust-layers of the globe,
|Eternal||Everlasting, Never ending|
|Impalpable||Something that cannot be touched|
|Descend||To come down|
The rain continues to speak.
I continue to rise to the ever increasing height. Nobody is able to touch me. I rise in the form of vapours from the water bodies of the land and from the sea that is very deep. I rise upwards towards heaven. After reaching a great height my form is changed. Vapour gets condensed into water droplets. But the nature of me remains the same. I start coming down towards earth. I reach the drought hit areas to make them wet. Every small particles and every layer of dust of the universe becomes wet.
And all that in them without me were seeds only, latent, unborn;
And forever, by day and night, I give back life to my own origin,
And make pure and beautify it;
|And all that in….||Alliteration|
|All that in them without me||Alliteration|
The rain continues to speak.
Without water all the seeds on the earth cannot germinate. They remain inactive without any growth of plants. All the time, day and night, I give life back to universe where I was born. I purify it and make it beautiful.
(For song, issuing from its birth-place, after fulfilment, wandering Reck’d or unreck’d, duly with love returns.)
|Reck’d or unreck’d||Cared or uncared|
(The rain is like a song. It originates for earth which is called its birth place. It moves to different places – from water bodies to sky, and then travels as a cloud. But it comes back to fulfil requirement of earth. Whether any body cares or does not care for the work done by it, rain continues to do its work. It return to its original place with lots of love. )