06 May 2012

The Tao of Art.

I've been reading a bit lately on Wittgenstein, my favorite philosopher, and Taoism. Of all things.
How does this relate to painting....not sure. But it seems Western philosophy has a harder time
explaining art making than Eastern currents of thought. 

I was struck by some of the things in the Daodejing, the main text of Taoism. Especially in regards to emptiness and the goal of nothingness. I read it as "the space between things" or "leaving a lot of white  (in watercolors)." And working so hard at your art it becomes like breathing, second nature, doing "nothing."

Nothing to do with Taoism.

 There is this tale of the man who travels in a cart. He is deeply drunk so when his cart has a horrible accident, he is projected out .But his stupor is so deep and his unconsciousness so total that he doesn't break a bone due to the absolute flexibility of his relaxed body.  It seems the "way" of the sage would be to manifest such a flexible estate in everyday situations....and art making. Don't we create best when in a estate of unconsciousness, doing nothing?

Ah, but doing "nothing" is only possible through understanding our nature and the nature of things, without fighting them or striving. And the only way to achieve that involves such discipline as could only be mustered by few. Paradoxes abound in Taoism. What you do very well you require little effort to do, but doing it well is through intense work and a natural talent. 

Western art is full of effort, visible strain. Western philosophy involves a great deal of revision and criticism, a constant rewriting and reflection over the past. Its ideal is the progress through improvement  and revision of the previous states.  The facility of Titian, Velazquez or Rembrandt is the product of achieving excellence in very much the same way asian art does while at the same time aspiring to differ from the previous iterations and concepts of art.

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