Tag Archives: art

The Ten Bull Pictures – notes

The standard version of the Ten Bull Pictures used today is the version by Kaku-an, a 12th century monk. The oldest version of this is a 16th century copy in Kyoto, Japan.

The earliest series is considered the one by Seikyo, consisting of five pictures. The first picture starts at the fourth Kaku-an picture (and being slightly different) and ends on the eighth. In between are three pictures which are not found in Kaku-an’s version. A later version that Seikyo’s that was popular in China also has ten pictures but it also starts and ends at exactly the same pictures as Seikyo’s five pictures.

The conclusion to be drawn then is

  1. Kaku-an’s pictures are independent in design to both Seikyo and the Chinese versions
  2. Kaku-an’s pictures have a different significance to Seikyo’s

Particularly the second point starting earlier in the timeline means it says more about practitioners at the beginning of their journey. Also, by ending later, it says something about what the purpose (or Zen’s goal) is for enlightenment. These points are worth exploring.

 

How to paint an object

“I paint objects as I think them, not as I see them.” (Pablo Picasso, 1959)

This statement by Pablo Picasso is telling. The object is no longer what matters. It is the way we think and can think of them that matters. And it is not longer necessary to be faithful to the “outer” object, but rather important to be faithful to “inner” one that does what it does – namely create art, or more generally, abstraction. After all, our human self is nothing but part of the creation of the world. So we should celebrate that by being faithful to who we are.

Philosophy from looking at a piece of paper

The Zen buddhist Thich Nhat Hanh once spoke of the impossibility of looking at a piece of paper seeing its front face and not presume that it has no back face. Most people will not argue that. Intuitively we will presume this, if we are of sound (without mental disabilities) and mature (old enough to have enough experience) mind.

Maurice Denis began a revolution in Western art with this insightful statement,

« Se rappeler qu’un tableau, avant d’être un cheval de bataille, une femme nue ou une quelconque anecdote, est essentiellement une surface plane recouverte de couleurs en un certain ordre assemblées. »

“Remember that a picture, before being a battle horse, a nude, an anecdote or whatnot, is essentially a flat surface covered with colors assembled in a certain order.”

which led to (or summed up) pretty much all modern art. The Cubist paintings of Picasso are an expression of this idea. And Cezanne tried the same in his still-life works before Picasso.

In literature, Eliot, Woolf and Joyce are good examples of this approach and understanding. In linguistics, Saussure said as much about meaning in language. And in philosophy, Wittgenstein, after Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, and Derrida had pursued an understanding to the same end.

In Zen, all things are linked, and all things are empty. The back of the piece of paper can be safely presumed to be there even if we do not directly see it by virtue of the existence of the front of it. The back relies of the front for its meaning and existence, as does all language relies on all words for each other’s definitions. Nothingness only means what it does because of somethingness. The reverse is true as well.

Banksy’s Art

The point of Banksy’s art is social commentary. More importantly it is location specific. So by removing it from the wall it was painted on means it loses its meaning, significance and value. In a sense Banksy is really criticizing about this kind of phenomenon by choosing graffiti as his medium.

Art and the environment – Emma Lindsay

Artist, Emma Lindsay, is driven to speak up for the environment and our highlight our impact upon it. Watch this space for updates on this very talented artist … who happens to be a good friend.