Artist’s Journal: NUMBER 20

“Just as a candle

cannot burn without fire,

men cannot live

without a spiritual life.”

The Buddha 563 – 483 BCE

Six Persimmons
Mu Qi (Fa-Chang)
Ink painting
13th Century on paper

PLEASE NOTE: This is an excerpt from a previous blog post.  I’m revisiting it because it has inspired me to set off on a new set of studies to prepare for an upcoming solo show.

When I was in college, one of my painting instructors lectured us on this painting – Six Persimmons, a Chinese 13th century painting by the Buddhist monk, Mu Qi (Moo-Chee).  He was also known by his given name Fa-Chang. He lived and worked during the Song dynasty.  He engaged in the spontaneous mode of Chinese painting. The painting of the Six Persimmons was famous in his own lifetime. It was both admired and revered for the high level of  brushstroke skills.

Yet, this is still a simple painting by a simple monk.  For many reasons, it may be considered the most perfect painting ever executed.  It may also be considered more even more amazing because Mu Qi was not an artist, just a monk.  But then, in my opinion, may I submit that the first artists were the first priests. Regardless, in my estimation, it is the Rosetta Stone of Art.  Why?

What does that mean?  The Rosetta Stone unlocked the secrets of ancient Egypt’s hieroglyphics. The Six Persimmons unlocks the secret; the simple essence of Art.  Why?  How?  Mu Qi employed an almost perfect balance… his thick and thin brushstrokes, the rendering of the persimmons from light to dark and from subtle nuances to bold brushstrokes are all contrasts, or contradictions or more precisely; paradoxes.

Fa-Chang the man and Mu Qi the Buddhist monk cashed-in, if I may be allowed to use that term, on a single work that that continues to engage and enchant the viewer in almost the same exact way as it did the day it was painted. It represents Art itself.   Once you identify or name something, you become conscious of it. It’s the Joshua Tree Principle.

Off I go to my easel!

Posted on: 19/10/2012, by :
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