Paintings as Poems
In Ancient China we are told Painting was regarded as ‘silent poetry’, and Poetry as ‘painting with sound’.
Confucian scholar Yang Xiong (53 BC – 18 AD) wrote:
“Speech is the voice of the mind; writing is the delineation [hua: painting or picture] of the mind. When this voice and delineation take form, the princely man and the ignoble man are revealed.”
Su Shi (1037–1101), a famous scholar of the Northern Song, inscribed a painting by Wang Wei (699–759), [renowned poet of the Tang dynasty (618–906) – the golden age of poetry ]– with an accompanying poem:
“When one savours Wang Wei’s poems, there are paintings in them.
When one looks at Wang Wei’s paintings, there are poems.”
Huang Tingjian’s (1045–1105) inscription on Li Gonglin’s (1049–c.1105) painting Resting in contemplation also reveals an understanding of the interconnectedness of the art forms at this time:
“Master Li had a phrase he did not want to express in words,
So with light ink he sketched out a soundless poem”
. Painting and poetry are so subtly interwoven that one wonders whether the poem inspired the painting or vice versa. The work crystallises the literati’s theory that painting is silent poetry, and that poetry is painting with sound. It also follows that poetry is painting without form, and painting is poetry with form.
I love these ideas and often think on these things when composing and preparing works :
EC 290. ‘ quick landscape ‘
EC 200. ‘ by the Lake ‘
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