Grazia Marchianò

The liquid element interacting with the rocky solidity of the mountain conveys the Chinese and Japanese idea of landscape. Shan-shui is not, I should stress, a ‘view’ in the English sense of landscape but the thing itself: a piece of living nature in which the true spirit of landscape is sealed. Chinese and Japanese aesthetics of painting embody these principles, painting being aimed not at the imitation of outer forms but at the painter’s being absorbed by tones and atmospheres. At this point the texts say that the artist should avoid direct observation – looking with the eyes – in favour of indirect observing – looking, as it were, through the eyes.
Looking through the eyes makes wonder persist in the heart, granting it innocence and spontaneity. This is what is meant in Chinese by ‘natural mind’ (Chinese benxin). Xin, ‘mind’, is written with the same ideogram as ‘heart’. Consequently ‘mind-heart’ would be a heartfelt mind and at the same time a mindful heart. Taoism stresses how important it is for the mind-heart to be receptive to the heavenly principle, and attuned with the cosmic Way (Tao).

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