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This is the Chinese term

for what we're translating
into English as "landscape."

And it's important
to see the Chinese

and to understand what it's
about because once one starts

to see the term in
Chinese, one begins

to realize how
different this must be

from what we mean by "landscape."
For example, here I am
in Chicago teaching,

and as David Roy, who retired from
University of Chicago used to say,

if you have x-ray vision, you will
not see mountains in Illinois.

So in the Chinese tradition
then, if you went out

to the cornfields of Illinois
and you painted the landscape

that you saw, it would
not be considered this.

Because the Chinese
terms "mountain"--

or mountains because the Chinese
doesn't differentiate singular

or plural here-- and you could
think of it as meaning both

simultaneously, mountains and
water, quite literally, shan shui.

So when we look at
the emergence of what

becomes a great classical
traditional Chinese landscape

painting in the 10th and
11th centuries when it does

emerge I'll show you
some earlier images that

have mountains and streams in them.
You have to have mountains.
If there are no mountains,
it's not landscape painting.

And I have some slides that
talk a little bit about yin yang

because it's important
in the context

of earlier Chinese landscaping.
There is a kind of a
yin yang implication

here where mountains and
water or rivers and streams

refer to two inclinations
or tendencies in nature.

That is to say that mountains
are expressive of the tendency

of things to grow high, to grow
up towards the sky, to be solid,

to change slowly because mountains
do change, and to be hard.

Water, on the other hand,
flows downward, softer.

It turns into mist.
It's not graspable.
It's more open to dramatic changes.
So they complement each other.
So mountains and streams
become mutually entailing

complementary expressions of
the whole world of nature.

And one doesn't encounter
really the equivalent,

at least in the texts
I've encountered,

for the English word
"nature," either.

You'll find terms like mountains
and streams or rivers and forests

and so on, but the
all-encompassing term "nature"

is another matter altogether.
This is an early example
of mountains and water.

This is not really landscape.
It's a cast bronze incense
burner, quite a spectacular object

excavated in the late 1960s
by Chinese archaeologists

from a tomb of a Han
Dynasty imperial prince,

Prince Liu Sheng,
who died 113 B.C.E.

And this is something
that was buried with him.

And it's a mountain island.
So this down here depicted in
inlaid gold in these scroll forms

are patterns of water.
The term that we could use, at least
at this time, we can call this chi.

Chi could be vapor.
It could be patterns of vapor.
It could be clouds.
It could be the forms of mountains.
It can be also the forms of water.
So in this particular context, this
is water and water that swirls up.

And it almost turns into
these oddly-shaped peaks.

There are actually holes cast
in and among the mountain peaks

so that when the incense
is lit, you can imagine

the smoke of the incense
swirling around these peaks.

So an incense burner that was
buried with Prince Liu Sheng.

Usually identified as one of the
legendary islands of immortals,

mountain islands of
immortals, one of three

that exist somewhere off of
the Northeast coast of China.

The interest in
mortality and longevity

was important for
Han Dynasty culture

and also for later Chinese
culture and Daoism in particular.

But I wanted to put the
character for "immortal"

that we're translating as
"immortal" down here, which

is literally a person on
the left next to a mountain.

A mountain person is immortal.
So just by way of introduction,
the notion of mountains and streams

is connected with a long
history of, let's say interest,

and what we call it simplistically,
cult of immortality, request

for longevity in
ancient Chinese culture.

This is a probably copy of
an early original painting.

This is just the detail of
a hand scroll, ink and color

on silk, that is attributed to
a painter named Gu Kaizhi, who

was living and working in the
300s, dying around about 406

in the common era.
And the subject is a poem, so
this is an illustration of a poem.

The poem is the immortal-- sometimes
immortal-- nymph of the Luo River.

And there she is set in a landscape.
Mountains and then
we have streams here.

And she's floating
above the streams and so

we have again immortality associated
with the world of mountains

and streams here in an
illustration of a poem.

We move into a Buddhist context.
And this will be pushing
into the sixth century,

into the middle of
the sixth century.

This is just a small detail of
wall paintings in a cave sanctuary,

a cave shrine, a part of a monastic
site, a Buddhist shrine out--

and I showed you slides
for that before the break--

out in the Gobi
Desert near Dunhuang.

Cave 249, mid-sixth century.
And it shows here this
is an element of the sky.

And there's actually a Chinese sky
god immortal, though identified

in this context as the god Indra.
And then all sorts of other deities
and denizens of the sky realm.

And then down here
the world of mountains

picked out in mineral
blue and some brown ink.

And with a hunting scene here.
So this is the world of
mountains and streams down below.

In another Buddhist
context, mid-eighth century,

this is again the small
detail from a larger mural.

And the mural's basically Buddhist
subject matter, Buddhist narrative

subject matter.
So now we have mountains
that are strung together

in sequences of overlapping
forms, conical shapes

that are layered together to
create a sense of mountain ranges

where the mountains and
also zigzagging streams

are ways of framing a narrative,
which is then identified

by these blanks here that
the text is now gone.

So making the subject matter
of this narrative a little bit

obscure although thought perhaps
the depictions of the pilgrimage

of the early Tang Dynasty monk
Xuanzang be depicted here.

Others have suggested these are
illustrations of fables and tales

from the Lotus Sutra.
Peter started out his talk with
a parable from the Lotus Sutra.

Anyway, so mountains in mineral
blue and green here now.

We're pushing into the 10th century.
We start seeing the
emergence of what

we can call landscape
painting per se.

And this is a painting that
has some controversy about it.

And I'm one who thinks it's
an early painting, and others,

my colleagues don't
agree with me about it.

This is a painting that's
in the Nelson Atkins

museum in Kansas City.
And I think it's
battered, it's beat up.

It's been restored and has
some old restoration on it.

And some of the
paint has flaked off.

We don't really know what
the title might have been.

It's generally just
called "Travelers

in a Mountain Landscape."
It's attributed to this 10th
century artist Jing Hao.

Also, we have some writing
surviving, supposedly

written by Jing Hao
on landscape painting.

This is not a large painting.
I don't remember.
I didn't have with me handy
the actual dimensions,

but I remember the image may
not be much larger than this.

So it's not a really
large hanging scroll.

What I want to do is show you
some details of this image

and then start to lay out what
I call some of the conventions

or some of the vocabulary of 10th
and 11th century landscape painting

to familiarize you
with the language,

the visual language of it.
Also keeping in mind that the
language of this painting is full

of an inherent-- emerges as an
inherited practice, just the way

the writing system
in calligraphy works.

And you have the eight
basic brush strokes,

and you have a stroke
number and order

when you're writing in a character.
You also have patterns of practice.
We have structuring, improvised
practice that is very much

a part of the landscape
painting tradition.

Now I called some of the things
I'm going to describe conventions,

but I haven't come up
with a better word for it

because convention
sounds so absolute.

You know it's like,
these are the rules,

and you have to follow these
rules, and this is how you do it.

It's much more open-ended than that.
There are sort of inherited patterns
of ways of arranging compositions,

of subject matter, of including
certain kinds of motifs,

that are not absolutely defined.
The texts don't
actually describe them.

I'm going to actually articulate
them for my own cataloging of them.

But they're open-ended
and so that there

are ways of structuring organization
into the present moment unfolding.

And in the creative
unfolding of that moment,

those very structures that beget
your participation in that moment

can actually then
themselves be changed

by how you realize
them in that moment.

So no real absolute
rules about this,

although it seems
that there are a lot

of apparent prescriptions
in painting.

Here's a detail of the
lower part of the painting.

You see here.
And there are people
in it and the people

are all in this ghostly white.
And that's because a lot of
the detail has flaked off,

and this is lead white pigment.
So this is a mountain
landscape, perhaps even

might have been meant as
a winter landscape given

all the presence of the lead white
here, with small people floating

around, going about their business.
This is the upper
part of the painting,

which has this grand mountain peak.
And then there is over
here temple buildings.

These are palatial style
architecture, timber frame

architecture, and the
presence of temple buildings

is in gorges and
valleys and mountains

is one of the kind of
conventional motifs

that recur in 10th and 11th
century landscape painting

and then later landscape paintings.
I've taught this
material for so long

I ended up sort of evolving a
phrase to describe this convention.

Temple buildings
nestled in the gorge

partially obscured
by mist and trees.

I have to find -- and I realized
I was saying this over and over

and over again, and
students were memorizing it.

I would get these essay
exams back and they'd say,

temple buildings nestled
in the gorge partially

obscured by mist and trees.
And one graduate student
made an art project out of it

where she asked me
to translate it into,

of all things, classical
Chinese and read it in Chinese

and then read it in English.
And then she refragmented
it, and so there's

my voice for 10 minutes going
on repeating this phrase.

So there we have it.
Temple buildings
nestled in the gorge

partially obscured
by mist and trees.

Trees down at the bottom
here, and this is a detail

so you get some people there.
That's right here.
And this man is also a
kind of a recurring motif.

He showed up in the blue and
green Tang Dynasty landscape.

I suggest it might be
referring to the story

of a pilgrimage of Xuanzang.
There was a image of a man with
a broad-brimmed hat on a horse.

Well, here's an image of a man on
maybe a horse but possibly a mule.

Eventually it's become
standard that he rides a mule,

and he has a broad-brimmed hat.
He's emerging from behind the slope.
And this recurs in a lot of
Chinese landscape paintings later.

He becomes poeticized.
He becomes a kind of trope
for the lone wanderer,

wandering among
mountains and streams,

except that he usually gets to
the point where he's not alone.

He always has an attendant
who's a little bit smaller

than he is, always on foot.
And then another detail
and some more figures.

That's over here.
More people right there,
and they're next to--

this is a hole in the painting.
The painting is really
badly damaged so there

are spots in it where
there is no painting.

You're looking at this dark area.
You're looking at the
backing of the painting.

More people up here.
And one of the things that's
characteristic of 10th and 11th

century landscape
paintings for the most part

is that when you see people, they
are going about their business.

No matter how strange
the landscape looks.

They're just, OK, I've
got the kids here.

I'm carrying goods up this slope.
Or you're traveling,
and you're wandering.

And actually, Guo Xi , in his
teachings to his son in the 11th

century about landscape
paintings is that well,

you want to focus on those elements
of mountains and streams which are

suitable for dwelling,
wandering, traveling, and gazing.

And they become for me anyway
the four almost canonical ways

of structuring the human
encounter with nature

in the world of landscape painting
and also the poetry of painting

as well.
So what nature is
is something you do.

It's not a place.
Nature is thinking about it.
Nature is writing poetry about it.
Nature is wandering through it.
It is living in it.
It is imagining living in it.
It is something that
you participate in.

Let me start outlining some
of the broader, shall I say,

conventional practices or patterns
of practice that inform 10th

and 11th century
landscape paintings.

Composition is how you lay
out the forms in the image.

You will have, first of
all, the great mountain.

And there's a hierarchy
of the realm of nature.

In the 10th and 11th
century, there's a keen sense

that nature and human beings
mirror each other socially.

So as in the case of
the human community,

there's a hierarchy so there is in
the world of mountains and streams.

And that is the great mountain,
who in the 11th century

is at times identified as
the sovereign mountain.

And then once you have
the sovereign mountain,

you lay out the smaller
forms of mountains.

So we have a hierarchy
dominated by what

we might call a great
mountain or the main mountain

or the lord mountain, so to speak.
Now this main mountain
that dominates

the hierarchy of the
painting is usually

paired with trees
down at the bottom.

So we have the summit of the
mountain, and down below here

is a group of tall
trees, near the bottom.

And this is a pairing that we'll
see over and over and over again.

Now it's not an absolute rule.
We're going to see variations on it.
And sometimes it
doesn't actually exist,

and the trees are
replaced by a rock.

Because down here we
also have another kind

of pairing that appears
commonly, the mountain summit

juxtaposed against, down at
the bottom, large boulders,

large clusters of rocks.
Now then, we have the division
along this, shall we say,

this relationship,
this correlation here,

the division of-- in the
vertical format-- the division

of the painting space
into the left half

and the right half, where
one half is more open space.

In this particular example,
the space on the left side

is more open here and given
to more horizontal forms.

On the right side, by
way of complement parity,

we have a more densely packed,
almost closed off space,

where the forms are vertical
in orientation, vertical forms.

So they complement each other and
where these two kinds of space meet

is in the middle where we
have the lord mountain.

Not quite so visible here, and
perhaps because it's 10th century

we see this phenomenon that I'm
going to talk about in a moment,

more prominent in later
paintings, is also

a shifting point of
view from top to bottom.

The painting is divided along axes.
You can imagine a vertical
axis cutting into the painting

and also a horizontal axis right
to the middle of the painting.

Now along these axes, particularly
along the vertical one,

you're going to have a
shifting point of view

so that when you're looking
at the summit of the mountain,

you're looking at
it from down below.

When you're looking at these rocks
down here and the trees down here

below, you're looking from up above.
And where the middle horizontal
axis is, you're looking straight on.

Now I tell this to
art students, who say,

well, you got that kind of
perspective in the Renaissance.

And then I say to
them, does this look

like a Renaissance
painting spatially?

And they say, well, no.
Well, one of the reasons is
because spatially, what's happening

is that as you are looking
up and you're looking down,

you are moving.
So the way I describe
this to my students

is imagine the plane
of the picture where

you have the fulcrum of a seesaw.
And you as the viewer are
on one end of the seesaw,

and the horizon line is on
the back end of the seesaw.

And so that as you look up to the
summit, your end of the seesaw

is going down, and the
horizon line-- which you see

is our horizon line here-- goes up.
When you look down on these rocks,
as you shift your gaze from top

down, your end of the seesaw goes
up, and the horizon line goes down.

When you're in the middle,
you're both balanced,

and you're right here in the middle.
What is also almost a
magical kind of phenomenon

is that-- This is almost sort
of quantum mechanics in a way--

when you look at any
detail, no matter

where it is, when you think in
detail, and you look at the summit

or you look down here below,
you're always looking straight on.

And you're like, whoa.
Because it's kind of mind--
It freaks my students out.

It's mind-blowing.
All right.
There is also, though, because
of the hanging scroll format,

most of the paintings
of this era are

surviving in this vertical format.
Because of the vertical format and
the proportions of the rectangle

here, it's not so
prominent but you also

start to get the shifting
point of view left and right.

So that when you look towards left,
you've moved over to the right.

When you look to the right,
you move over to the left.

It's not so prominent, but it
starts to emerge there also.

So those are the basic,
overall compositional sorts

of structures that one sees
recurring in 10th and 11th century

landscape paintings but also in
paintings that are later than 10th

and 11th century that are
emulating the tradition

of the 10th and 11th century.
So they start, too.
They show up in later paintings.
And very few paintings
from this period survive.

You can count the number
of authenticated paintings,

or generally accepted paintings,
minus contemporary art historians,

that date from this
period on both hands

and have a few fingers left over.
Interestingly enough, I was just
telling a participant in the break

that two of these paintings
are in Kansas City, Missouri.

And this Is one of them, and
another one later on you'll see.

So there are other
kinds of things, too,

that are more, what shall
we say, motifs that show up.

I already mentioned
the temple buildings,

but there are also bridges for the
idea of wondering and traveling.

And you will see, besides
fancy temple buildings,

you'll see more rustic kinds of
cottages for the idea of dwelling.

Sometimes viewing pavilions.
You will see-- I know
it's not so present here.

You might not be able to see
it so well in this slide,

but streams cascading over rocks.
That's another motif.
Waterfalls and streams
cascading over rocks.

The broad-brimmed hatted guy on
the mule shows up quite a bit.

So "vocabulary,"
quote unquote of 10th

and 11th century landscape painting,
the great or sovereign mountain,

hierarchical relationships, division
of the painting along axes vertical

and horizontal.
This is from teaching.
I start to put more text in
that summarizes and [INAUDIBLE].

A differentiation of the
space left and right,

one side more open and horizontal,
the other dense and vertical.

The correlation between
the main mountain summit

and a grove of tall trees below.
Oh, by the way, I forgot to mention
that in the tall trees below,

one's got to be bent.
At least one's got to be
bent and sometimes really

twisted and gnarly.
The shifting point of view along
the vertical and horizontal axes.

Water or river below.
We've got pools of
water that suggest

seeing part of a river
or a large stream.

Streams cascading over
rocks and waterfalls.

Temple buildings
nestled in the gorge.

Simple rustic cottages,
pathways and bridges.

People going about their business.
And then the mule
rider with the big hat.

So here's another painting
compared to the Jing Hao

painting I just showed you.
This one is an attribution.
It's not very likely
to be of this period,

but it shows a lot of the
same kinds of features.

You see the main
mountain, and you can

see the mountain head or the
summit is similar in shape

to Jing Hao's painting.
We have our trees down here
below, not exactly the same

but in a different configuration.
But still that idea here, and
here's our bent one down here below.

We have a space that's
more open on one side

and more closed on the other side.
We have stream that
cascades over rocks.

We have a ridge here.
I'll show you a few details,
including-- Let's see.

Here we go.
Here's a detail of the
summit, and guess what's here.

There's our temple, and I'm
sorry this slide's not so good.

There's our temple building.
And then here's the detail
at the bottom, ridges.

There's a little bit of a scene
of a village down here below.

There's a pathway here.
And we get a close-up view, there
is our guy on the donkey, the hat.

There's a little bit of domesticity,
including various depictions

of mules sleeping on the
ground and lots of narrative

observation of this world.
This is a world alive, and
those small human beings

are very much a part of this world.
Here's another example.
Again, open on one side,
closed on the other side.

We have a dominant
cluster of mountains.

We have tall trees down here below.
Here's a bent tree.
Add another one for good measure.
We have a zigzagging stream
that cascades over rocks

and I get really fancy.
Bingo, there's a temple building
nestled in a snowy gorge.

And then another example, it's
attributed to really important 11th

century landscape painter,
but this is an attribution.

It's probably a later painting.
I'm showing our dominant mountain.
Slightly more open space on this
side, closed off space here.

Waterfalls, a division
of the painting,

horizontal and then
the vertical axis.

And the mountain is
slightly off axis.

That's perfectly OK.
We have a cluster of
trees down here below.

And then at least one tree is bent.
And then down here, I'll zoom
in, if you can make it out.

If you can make that
out, that's over here.

Guess what.
There's our temple building again.
Mist, lots of mist, is also part
of the 10th and 11th century

I should put that down on my list.
Mist, mist enshrouded mountains.
Here's yet another one.
We have our dominant mountain.
And then we have closed off on
one side, open on the other side.

We have a waterfall with
streams cascading over rocks.

the division of the painting
along axes, and et cetera.

There's, guess what,
there's our temple building.

And then this is
also in Kansas City.

It's actually a wonderful painting.
Though the composition
is extraordinary,

the execution is a
little bit repetitive,

suggesting to some of us that it's
a copy of some extraordinary work

that we no longer have.
Attributed to Li Cheng, one of the
most important, at least on record

anyway, 10th century painters.
And then we have central mountain
peaks, base goes around it.

Our temple is now
prominently placed along

these central horizontal axis.
The pagoda of the temple occupies
an extraordinary position

at the intersection of the
horizontal axis with the vertical,

which is an important--
usually in these paintings--

an important moment of transition.
It's where you find mist.
It's that moment where the human
viewer and the horizon line

are level.
There's a moment of transition
between the watery realm

of the earth and the sky realm,
with humans in the middle.

Streams and rivers down here.
There's a bridge here.
There, by the way, there's
a broad-brimmed hatted guy

down here in the lower
right hand corner.

Which side is more open?
Which side is more closed?
Not so clear.
It's kind of ambiguous.
And that's part of
the point is that,

like as I was saying, that these
are open-ended kinds of inherited

They're not absolute rules.
They don't bother
to write them down.

There are probably
regional variations

on these kinds of
things, personal ones.

Different teachers have
different approaches.

But the idea is that this is a
kind of practice and discipline

that is the structuring that enables
you to be free to be creative

in the moment, to participate
in the spontaneous unfolding

of the moment.
So it may seem to a kind of
modernist point of view shared

by many art students is that
how can this kind of structure

allow originality,
authenticity, and freedom?

But Henry was saying
this morning, if you

don't have a kind of
structure, what do you have?

You have nothing.
You have chaos.
There is no possibility for freedom.
All right.
Now this is one of the
great paintings that

survives in the handful that
survived from the 11th century

by this artist named Fan Kuan.
And I'll show you a
few details of it.

And there's the large mountain.
It is a little bit more
open on the left side.

But this is enormous mountain.
And the general narrative
of modern art history

about 11th century
landscape paintings, this

is the moment when
Chinese artists are

most interested in depicting
the world that they see.

Yes and no, I think that takes
us in the wrong direction.

The way I see it is
that there's something

about the concrete physical world
that one lives in becomes much more

important part of your
participation in-- Henry

was talking, alluding to-- now a
metaphysics that's emerging into,

shall we say, a neo-Confucian
notion of practice.

In any case, just to
save some time, let

me just show you a few
details of this painting.

I'm going to spend the last
half hour mostly talking

about one other painting,
but I'll just quickly

show you some details of this one.
This one, that's a detail of
this large rock down here below,

sort of Rock of Gibraltar
kind of configuration.

It has two people in it.
He's one of them.
Where is he?
He's here.
And they're leading a pack of mules.
And by the way, this detail's
only like an inch or so.

So this is extraordinary, right?
And behind him, there's
the caboose, his partner.

That's right over here.
The painting has a signature.
This is supposedly the
signature, and where is that?

That's there, found by a
Taiwanese art historian going over

the painting with a magnifying
glass in the '60s, I believe.

And then this is the
signature, and there's

what it is in this awful font.
Signatures, by the
way, are no guarantee

of authenticity, given the
importance of the virtuosity

in the handling of the brush,
and the practice of calligraphy,

signatures are very easily faked.
So there are no guarantees
of authenticity.

Nor are seals, by the way.
Seals are also easily faked.
Cascading streams over rocks.
And that's over here.
And more detail on the bottom here.
And another detail.
This painting is a
little over 80 inches

high so it's a
monumental work on silk.

We have temple buildings there.
But Fan Kuan is a little
bit unconventional.

So he's not really quite following
all the rules, if you consider them

rules, because of the way he
modifies the orientation, where

he puts the temple, for example.
And there are no tall trees down
at the bottom of the painting,

although he does follow another
convention of putting boulders down

at the bottom.
This is a detail here.
This is where rhythm is
the key to understanding

the rendering of
composition of landscape,

but also what
constitutes a rock, what

constitutes mist, what constitutes
the world of nature and mountains

and streams is the rhythm.
And the rhythm is expressive
of correlationality.

It's how things work together.
Rhythm is the energy of how
things interact together,

the corresponding relationships.
So if we think about how
rhythm works in this detail,

imagine, so this is
the central axis.

And we have these lines, these
contours that extend out.

You imagine, the way I
describe this customarily,

is you imagine this is water.
You throw a pebble
into the water, and you

have these extending, radiating
lines of energy that move outward.

One of the characteristics, too, of
all of these paintings-- this one,

I'm just bringing this
idea, this notion,

this phenomenon out here-- is
that along the central axis,

the rhythm is always from
the center, out and up.

So this is energy that moves out
and up and on the other side, energy

that moves out and
up this direction.

When you come to the outer edges, to
the left edge or to the right edge,

the energy moves up and
in, by way of complementing

the energy that moves out and up.
So this is not
arbitrary in the sense

that Fan Kuan is-- this is clearly
a kind of pattern of practice

that's going on.
On the other hand, it's intended
that part of the practice

is, this is spontaneously executed.
They do not sketch these things out.
You go back to the studio.
These are not real
places necessarily.

In a sense, it doesn't
also mean, it's

not quite right to say that
they're imagined places

because imagine takes
is into the realm

of human personal subjectivity
versus the world out there.

And that's not really
quite what's going on here.

But it's really taking the
experience of the world,

taking the world of mountains,
and bringing them back

into your studio, and
then speaking them

in the language of these
conventions of composition,

the motifs, patterns and
techniques of brush work,

handling ink washes
and that sort of thing.

Spontaneously, and spontaneous
doesn't necessarily mean fast.

The notion that a spontaneous
gesture must look fast

is something that comes
out of the impressionists.

Because impressionists in trying to
achieve an unmediated realization

of an absolute timeless
truth, say, forget education,

but if you think too
much, the thinking

is going to get in the way.
And analysis and rationale
doesn't get in the way.

They're sort of romantics.
They come out of romantic--
So the brush work is
all spotted and quick.

Because you're trying not
to think so you work fast.

Get the quick sketch.
That's a European modernist
notion of spontaneity.

So my students say,
well, something like this

doesn't look like it's
done spontaneously.

Well, spontaneity here means
an utter virtuosic mastery

of the practice that in
the particular moment

of the making of the
painting, there's

this extraordinarily insightful
realization of participation

in the rhythm of the
moment, which includes

the rhythm of your teachers, your
family, your friends, and also

the rhythm of nature.
This is the notion of,
shall we say, oneness.

It's not some kind of
necessary, some kind

of mystical sort of disillusion off
into an amorphous kind of infinity.

But actually oneness is you
as this particular person

in the collaboration with
others in the realization

of unfolding of time, the world.
And when you are able to
do that-- and the analogy

is music-- when you're able to
do that, you're making music.

And it's an event.
Life is human beings, and it's
this event that's unfolding.

So it's time, and when you
have that, that's spontaneity.

So some patterns of trees.
The techniques of the brush work
here and all these different kinds

of trees, this is
basically one brush work,

one brush technique here.
And it's the same in
all of these, but simply

by varying pressure, varying
tempo, inflecting the brush

in different ways, you get
different kinds of trees.

And what's actually I think
they're trying to show here

is this is a family of trees
that's different from this family

of trees, except that
they're all related.

In one family, these
are immediate family,

and then these are the cousins.
But simply by varying
rhythm and situation.

Patterns of leaves and pine needles.
This is, by the way,
this pine tree, which

has extraordinary position
in Fan Kuan's painting,

he doesn't divide the painting
top half, bottom half.

He pushed it into
top 2/3, bottom 2/3.

This is where the
balance of the seesaw is,

and this is where this tree is.
This is where the mist is.
The forms down here are all
horizontal and compressed.

He's compressed the energy of the
forms down into the bottom third.

So it's like compressing
a spring, and you

have this energy that bounces in
zigzag fashion among these forms.

It's sort of like imagine
compressing gases,

and so there's this
pressure that's built up.

When you get here into the mist,
all this pressure is released.

All the forms go vertical,
and this mountain

seems tall, gargantuan,
and monumental.

It pushes out towards
the left and right

because it's like
a rocket exploding.

It's an acceleration.
So size is a matter of acceleration
and explosion of density.

Now this is the painting I want
to focus on the rest of this talk.

Guo Xi's Early Spring dated to 1072.
It's five feet, three inches high.
Same sorts of things.
We have our central mountain,
open left half, closed right half.

And I'll show you
some details of it.

Let's take a look at it.
There's a detail of
the lower left hand.

There are people in it as well.
Here they are.
Two women.
She's holding some stuff.
Looks like they just
disembarked from this boat.

There's a kid here, and
there's a little infant.

She's carrying an infant.
They seem to be in conversation.
They're headed here.
That's all going on here.
They're headed home, simple
rustic thatched roof cottages.

Now these guys, with their
sun hats, hunched over,

bearing heavy loads up a steep
incline, are right there.

And then we have this guy poling his
boat, fishermen shoring up his net.

They are down here.
This guy on a bridge, turning
around to see what's going on.

This guy is there, and
he's looking at these two,

a foreigner and guess who.
Emerging from behind a slope, there.
A viewing pavilion, that's there.
And by the way, I should have
mentioned temple building-- god,

I should have mentioned the
temple buildings right there.

So there's all kind
of an orientation

of wandering directed in
Guo Xi's Early Spring.

So we start at the bottom
with these boulders,

and we have tall trees and a bent
tree, really gnarly one here.

So we start at the bottom.
There's a kind of movement of
these cloud-like boulders that

takes us up towards the center.
We stop and say hello to
the trees, who greet us.

And Guo Xi actually, in
his teachings to his son,

refers to them as junzi,
using the Confucian term

for exemplary person.
So they're like junzi, ministers
of the court, beckoning you.

And so then that's the
bottom half of the painting.

He takes us into this
swirling center here,

and then we'll move
off into the valley.

Now here are the tall trees.
An extraordinary painting.
This is early in spring
so the mountain world

is waking up from its
dormancy in winter.

That's those bare trees there.
And then the valley.
So we proceed into the valley.
This Is where the
broad-brimmed hatted guy is,

and so we're going
to actually follow

this in a kind of a
clockwise turning.

And the trees over here are sort of
pointing their direction this way.

Go that way.
And these trees here
at the left edge

are pointing in,
saying, go that way.

Go that way.
So we're going to
go into the valley.

We're listening to them.
There's also a pair
of cliffs up here,

and I want to say something
about the cliffs in a moment

so that's where we're looking.
The over-hanging cliffs
here are actually

also a kind of an
inherited practice.

Certainly, they're a reality
in Chinese mountains.

But also we see an
eighth century detail

of Dunhuang, a little detail.
Actually, it's a
Buddhist subject matter,

but it shows over-hanging cliffs.
You can make it out with
a zigzagging stream.

So Guo Xi's landscape
motif has a old ancestor.

There are also some mountains here,
if you can make them out, in white.

And then they have little
vertical brown lines

that indicate trees
on top of the summit.

This is from a mid-eighth
century Chinese lute, a pipa.

It's a plectrum guard.
It guards the face of the pipa.
It has this painted image on it.
It's in Japan.
It was a gift to the
Japanese emperor.

And it shows overhanging cliffs
that open up onto a valley

and a zigzagging stream.
First, let me say something
about these cliffs.

There's a kind of
relationality that I

referred to just a minute ago
with Fan Kuan's painting that

shows corresponding
kinds of relationships.

The mountain has all
these family-like,

kinship-like relationships in it.
For example, these two cliffs.
We have two over-hanging cliffs
that are very similar in shape.

This sort of soft edge, and
one is lighter in the back

to the one that's darker here,
but they seem to be very similar.

Then we have another pair that are
slightly different, more jagged

But these two seem to be
related to each other.

So you might say that this is
like, say, younger brother, older

brother, younger brother,
older brother, but then

they're cousins to each other.
And there's a great deal of this
kind of correlative sense of form

that plays out throughout
Guo Xi's painting.

Now this is the signature and the
title, Guo Xi and Early Spring.

This is the date, and then
we have Guo Xi's signature.

So that's where this is.
It's on the left hand
side of the painting,

right overlooking the valley.
This is Guo Xi's signature here.
It's partly effaced
by damage to the silk.

And the seal is underneath.
Now when we get to the
top of the painting,

here we see more
clearly these cliffs.

Ignore the inscription.
The inscription is added
by the Qianlong emperor

in the 18th century, and
also this is his seal.

So the inscription and
the largest of the seals

is not original to the painting.
And then if we look
at the summit, we

have this undulating
line with vertical lines

to indicate trees at the summit.
And then we have here a
diagram of decorative imaging

on an inlaid bronze tube from the
Han Dynasty, second century B.C.E.

And what's depicted here, I've
marked out in the pink here,

is an undulating-- originally
in gold inlay-- of mountains.

These are mountains
with vertical striations

that indicate trees
at the tops of them,

and we have an undulating line.
And then this is second century
B.C.E., and here we have 1072,

Guo Xi is doing the same
thing, but not the same thing.

And he's not conscious.
This is not a postmodern, conscious,
historical allusion to the past.

This is just something
that grows naturally

out of the traditional practice.
We circle around.
So we've come up from the
trees, boulder, trees,

swirling around the
middle with these forms,

swirling like a vortex.
We spin into the valley, and
we circle around the summit.

We go up to the summit, and then
we drop down through the mist here.

And where we end up, in
this densely filled valley.

Down on the right side,
here are temple buildings,

and there's a cascading
stream pouring over rocks.

That's here.
And then another detail,
closer view of the stream.

We have our temple
buildings up at the top.

And then these two trees,
which are right here.

Now these are
extraordinary trees that I

want to spend a little
moment with this detail

to show how this interdependent
sense of response,

this rhythm and the
response that is really

how the relationship of
these two trees works.

You start with this tree.
We could start with the
other one, but arbitrarily

start with this one.
It's a little closer to us.
It overlaps the other
one, and it rises out

of the rocky soil in an
arc, which is basically

something like a quarter circle.
It's not really a circle because
it's more tightly bent here,

and it starts to
straighten out here.

It's turning counter-clockwise,
and it has a knot hole here,

and then it bends 90 degrees.
Well, the tree behind it says, OK.
That's what you do.
I'm going to do the same thing.
I'm going to turn a quarter
circle, then straighten out.

I got my own knot hole.
I'm also going to get really thick
and craggy and all knotty down here

And I'm also going to bend
not quite at a right angle.

And then I'm going
to go up this way,

and I'm going to shoot
out another branch.

And I'm going to go up this way.
I'm going to go that way.
So how do you feel about that?
This tree then says, OK,
well I'm going to go.

Now you went clockwise.
I'm going to go clockwise, too.
So I go clockwise.
I'm going to go up this way.
And not only that, zigzag zigzag
and disappear into the mist.

This tree says, OK, I follow
suit, zigzag zigzag into the mist.

They sing together.
Everything, every detail in
this painting operates that way.

Every detail.
Nothing is isolated.
Everything is seen in this--
when you focus on any detail--

everything relates to each other
in this kind of rhythmic fashion,

this play of give and take.
Down the boulder down below.
Clouds like clouds.
What makes a rock a rock?
This, it's an event.
A rock is the event.
Something happened.
It's this billowing cloud of rock.
That's the event.
But the event is constituted
in multiple events.

What are those events?
It's the rhythm of light and dark.