Landscape of The Soul

Chapter Summary

Landscape of the Soul” is a beautiful story that describes the painter Wu Daozi. The writer of this story is Nathalie Trouveroy and is about the story of art. The story is about the wishes of the artists from Eastern and Western cultures and it gives a description of a diverse sense of beauty.

The tale told about the fact east writers seek active and emotional involvement with their profession. It is also about the Western writers who yearn for an exact depiction of life. It is divided into two sections and the first section is from the book Landscape of the Soul: Ethics and Spirituality in Chinese Painting.

The second part is taken from 'Getting Inside 'Outsider Art,' a Hindustan Times piece authored by Brinda Suri. The first part discusses Wu Daozi, a well-known Chinese painter. Tang Emperor Xuanzong recruited him to give beautiful look to a palace wall. The painter creates a beautiful landscape with clouds, mountains, woods, sky, and a waterfall. It looks like people living in harmony in a pleasant setting. He also presented a cave at the foot of a mountain inhabited by a spirit. The artist described his painting as the emperor and he clapped his hands for showing the opening of the cave that allow him to enter and vanish.

Contrast the Chinese view of art with the European view with examples.

There is a difference between the Chinese view of art and the European view of art. They differ from each other and the story shows that Chinese painters give the freedom to 9 spectators to show the painting on their way. They did not bind the painters with a single view of painting.

In contrast, European painters want that visitors might look at the painting the way the painter described it. They do not give freedom to the visitors and want the visitors look at a particular landscape from a specific angle. On the other hand, Chinese painters do not want that spectators follow his eyes, rather he wants visitors to enter his mind.

Here, the painter wants to allow the visitors a spiritual and conceptual space. Therefore, it is seen that the Chinese view of art differs from the European view. Examples of the different views are Chinese painting of Wu Daozi has a spiritual inner approach. The European painting of Quinten Metsys represents the exact form of the subject.

The Concept of Shanshui

Shanshui is a Chinese word and the meaning of the word is mountain-water. It is nothing but a way of expressing of Chinese style of describing paintings that is related to natural landscape. It has a deep meaning and mountain and water together form the landscape. Here, mountain represents warmth and dryness that lies vertically.

The water here describes as cool, moist and lies horizontally. In this story, Mountain is represented through the word ‘Yang’ and ‘Yin’ is the word for Water. The story describes that the mountain reaches vertically towards the heaven and water horizontally resting on earth. The terms reflect the fundamental notion of Daoism by describing the words Yang as masculine and Yin as feminine.

Meaning of the terms ‘Outsider Art’ and ‘Art Brut’ or ‘Raw Art’

The story presents different terms such as outsider art, and art brut, or raw art. The terms have different meanings and here it is described that French painter Jean Dubuffet discovered the concept of ‘art brut’ in the year 1940.

After that, the concept of outsider art came into existence and it becomes the fastest growing area of interest in contemporary art internationally. The term describes the art of those having no right to be artists. The idea is like that because it denotes the matter that they have received no formal training.

The concept of art brut or raw art describes the works that were in their raw state. The arts mainly regard cultural and artistic influences. The raw art describes as an unconventional aspect and it holds certain cultural as well as artistic values. In this story, it is described that the term art brut or raw art is used by Jean Dubuffet who was a painter.

Who was the untutored genius who created a paradise and what is the nature of his contribution to art?

In this story, the term outsider art has taken an impactful place and for describing the matter, the speaker gives an example of an outsider artist. Outsider art means the kind of art created by someone without any professional training to be an artist. Here, the person mentioned as an untutored genius who created a paradise is Nek Chand Saini.

He is considered an octogenarian creator-director credited with the world-famous rock garden at Chandigarh. He uses tones and recycled materials to depict his expression in the form of painting and his art is considered to be an outsider art. In this part, it is described that although he had no formal training about art, he successfully created a masterpiece. That is the reason he received the title untutored genius.


Q1. What does the term only the artist knows the way within mean?

Ans. The phrase mainly describes the strength of an artist and his capacity to create a deep connection with his artwork. The line utters in the context of describing the matter that one emperor can rule over the territory but artists ruled in the mind of people. In the context of the story, the king is the Tang Emperor Xuanzong.

Q2. What do the terms Yin and Yang mean?

Ans. It is seen that Yin and Yang have different meanings in different cultures. In Christianity, it describes different meanings and it differs from Chinese tradition. On one hand, it symbolises the unending struggle occurring between heaven and hell. In contrast, Vedanta philosophy describes Yin and Yang as symbols of Akshara and Kshara.

Q3. Who is the painter in this story?

Ans. It is a wonderful story describing the painter Wu Daozi who was a painter of the eighth century. The painter was hired by the Tang Emperor Xuanzong for decorating a palace wall. The masterpiece was a landscape and it was his last painting. The painting consists of a mountain, clouds, sky, wood, waterfall, and a beautiful cave having a living spirit.

Updated on: 03-Jan-2023


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