Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Landscape vision

I’m just starting to think about landscape depictions, and how they reflect the outlook of an artist or the culture of the artist. I wanted to start with this portion of a tangka from my bathroom calendar.

Tangkas are scroll paintings traditionally used by monks as meditation or teaching tools. This one caught my attention in particular because of the diversity of activity and the unusual combination of formal tools. There are rich narratives inside each room and outside each building, including elephants crossing rivers, groups of flying deities flying (see the orange ones at center), and severed bodies. But there are also surprising geometric areas like the horizontal stripes at the top. I mean, what is that?

Furthermore, we've got the massive structure at the bottom left, the three small cube-houses at top right - unbelievably geometric in themselves - and then those curvilinear buildings at top left. Somehow though, the composition holds together in an unlikely balance.

So this is a wildly complex and untidy world. In it I recognize our own.

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