sketches of japan
Nature versus form
The artist portrayal of the Asian landscape is one of great mystery to the western trained eye, its principles in composition predate our equations of golden ratio and geometrical form language. Our industrialised founda- tions and mindset function largely on mechanical principles making a formless experience harder to process. In Shan Shui paintings, the viewer is naturally directed on a non liner path through the emptiness of space flowing from earth (Mountain) to heaven (Water/cloud). Intuition carries you through on a journey with rest stops of con- templation where one can make the choice of instinct gratification that comes from its initial simplicity or explore the spaces in between and pose for further reflection. Perhaps its greatest asset being that the viewer can decide. By contrast, renowned American sculptor Richard Serra (b. 1939) introduces industrial scale and material into the environment. His study and knowledge into the properties of steel allows the exploration of shape and form to become more organic and expressive in nature. With the material being a facilitator and not the subject, one must explore the space in and around in order to create an impression on the mind. Once again the artist retracts out of sight to allow one to develop an independent opinion. From these two approaches my curiosity spawned to juxtapose the masculine, western form language with the feminine, eastern meditation on the landscape.
Photography is largely defined by the content within the frame of an image. Appearance of a subject within the frame thereby stating its presence beyond doubt, but also depriving the viewer of the ability to engage with the image and encourage further dialogue or insight to what is happening in the scene. In harnessing the power of abstraction in Western art movements from the early to mid 20th century the artists goal is to imply scale, form and subject in its simplest form, giving the viewer a starting point to further develop the scene within ones imagi- nation. Due to the static nature of a square frame, the artist generates movement from a standing start. With the ability to push and pull the eye, balance and counterbalance the weight and emptiness through composition. This offers greater possibilities in variations of space than riding the current of the golden ratio or mean found in a more elongated canvas. Bringing the western trained eye more in sync with the interrelation of primary opposites. Creating synergy between black and white, east and west, yin and yang.
Nature is not without its folklore. Elements of the natural world have long been the muse in which to express philosophy over time. For instance a pine tree, which represents longevity, regularly make an appearance. The features of a pine tree are in sync with its environment, displaying its story like a portrait of an ageing face. Anchored to the earth beside a deep precipice living both a dangerous yet romantic life, projecting a soul more individual compared to those amongst the forest. An image for anyone wishing to serve or govern rather than live amongst the mass. The pine tree is not always prevalent within the image. Its presence may be more forthcoming for dialogue in presentation similar to traditional Sagunja paintings, or subtly retreating in the background keep- ing a watchful eye on the broader scene.