Conversation with a Chinese art student

> I was introduced to a Chinese art student at Dalian University who was taking a course in the traditional method of Chinese landscape painting, a style of ink painting dating back to the early dynasties. He had his large painting tacked to the wall and I had the privilege to ask him a few questions about his work. His response to one of my questions was very revealing; in my estimation it underscored a significant philosophical and cultural attitude towards painting in the traditional style. I asked him, “How do you know when a painting is finished?” His answer was very emphatic, “A painting is never finished.” >
> This answer basically implied two things to me: The first is that when a Chinese landscape painting in the traditional style reaches the suggestion that it continues-on in time and space, then it has successfully captured an important aspect of living life. The viewer of the painting becomes one with nature through the act of seeing. Past, present, and future are stretched-out as hills, trees, and clouds climb towards realization in a single moment. The second aspect of his answer revealed his humility. An artist can never reveal the ultimate save for an honest attempt to merely enter the process of living. The other end of his humility was to acknowledge his master–a teacher, who can do it much better than he. >
> Bill Scarlato


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