Tao Chi’s Single Stroke

April 18th, 2010

A painting by Tao Chi collected in The Wilderness Colors of Tao-chi (1973).

Mountain-Blocked Clouds, ca. 1700 (plate 10). Click for larger version. The inscription is a couplet by Du Fu followed by a commentary by Tao Chi: “It is good not to have any houses here, / Yet to have mountains blocking the clouds. / These words are unusual, and this painting is also raw! There is a feeling beyond feeling, and yet no hint of an ordinary painting.”

“The unifying principle Tao-chi advanced for the understanding of painting as well as cosmic creation was called i-hua, which means both ‘the single stroke’ and ‘the painting of oneness.’ I-hua was at once the symbol and realization of primordial growth—the process of nature in both the general and specific senses. I-hua also constituted the very practical operating procedure in painting: the completed design depended on the direction and configuration of the first single stroke from which everything else grew. The accidental effects that Tai-chi sought in his work were directly related to this concept of ‘single stroke’ painting, or painting of ‘myriad strokes that are ultimately reunited in oneness'” (Fu’s & Fong’s introduction).

Said Tao Chi: “When the brush is united with the ink, yin-yün (cosmic atmosphere) is created. When yin-yün is undivided, it is like chaos. In order to open up chaos, what else should I use except the ‘single stroke’? Even if my brush is unlike the usual brush, my ink unlike the usual ink, and my painting unlike the usual painting, there is always my own identity in it. It is I who use the ink, the ink does not use me; I who wield the brush, the brush does not wield me; I who grow out of the womb, the womb does not discard me. From one, ten thousand thing come, yet from ten thousand things I must come back to one. By transforming the ‘single stroke’ into yin-yün, all things under heaven may be accomplished” (Hua-yü-lu, chapter 7).

Miotte’s Gestures

April 4th, 2010

Three paintings by Jean Miotte collected in Ruhrberg’s Miotte.

Brumes, 1992 (p229). Click for larger version.

“Miotte means his gestural structures to exist between states of solidity and liquidity, between the physical and the evanescent, the tangible and the elusive. His investigations arise out of his preoccupation with that gap in perception that occurs between memory, which seemingly solidifies everything, and seeing, where the world can in certain circumstances remain liquid, always be in a state of continuous change and transformation” (p17, Yau’s introduction).

“From this [Miotte] concluded that artistic work, the ‘making,’ as he unpretentiously refers to it, takes place between the ‘will to an action and the content of the gesture that articulates it'” (p27, Ruhrberg’s forward).

Au delà, 1956 (p67). Click for larger verison.

“It becomes clear that… space—although diversely treated—is a dominant theme. The unfamiliar, the previously unknown, the individual cosmos of the sensibilities beyond rationality, are given visible shape by the liberated gesture, by form. The profound and immediate experience of the distilled emotions within the painting allows pure energy to become concrete and produces an echo in space of the magical powers of the universe. Titles such as Au delà [above]… clearly point to this” (p27-28, Ruhrberg’s forward).

Carré d’or, 1954 (p63). Click for larger version.

Says Miotte, “I see my work as a projection, resulting from intensely experienced moments, the consequence of confrontation with experience, and from internal conflicts. Painting is not a rational theorizing or intellectual observation, painting is an action, a sequence of movement carried within one’s self and whose origin is internal” (p33).