Landscape to Soul - Summary

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Landscape of Soul Summary Introduction

The story “Landscape of the Soul” by author Nathalie Trouveroy is about art. The Summary of landscape to soul evokes the varying sense of beauty and desires of artists in Western and Eastern countries. While the Western eye longs to see life accurately, artists in the East prefer an active and emotional engagement with the craft. The chapter involves two parts. The first part is obtained from ‘Landscape of the Soul: Ethics and Spirituality in Chinese Painting’. and the second part is procured from ‘Getting Inside ‘Outsider Art’, an article written by Brinda Suri in Hindustan Times. 

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 Summary of the Landscape to Soul Part 1

In the Landscape of the Soul Summary, the first narrative is about a famous medieval Chinese artist named Wu Daoji, who lived in the 8th century under the Tang Emperor Xuanzong rule. He was asked by the regent to decorate the walls of his palace.

Wu Daoji painted a beautiful midline of mountains, waterfalls, river, clouds and blue skies, wildlife, and people living harmoniously in a radiant environment. He painted a cave in the foothills of the mountains that was dwelled by a spirit. While painting Wu clapped his hands near the cave, and the passage of the cave magically opened. Wu gets inside the cave and vanishes.

In the summary of the chapter Landscape of the soul, the author shows the knowledge of the mystical inner world. It opened a portal to a different world. Wu entered the cave, and the image disappeared into thin air before anyone else could react. Wu disappeared as well. The story became a Chinese legend and part of rich folklore from writers and philosophers such as Confucius and Zhuangzi. 

Summary of Landscape to Soul Part 2

The second part of the landscape of the soul summary is about another painter who believed in the spiritual magic of art. He painted a magnanimous dragon. However, he did not paint the eyes of the dragon because he was afraid that the dragon would come to life. The belief he had in his art was such that he was frightened by the probability of bringing his art to life and falling victim to a fiery dragon.

Summary of Landscape to Soul Part 3

In the third and final story, the writer cites a story representative of Europe during the fifteenth century in Antwerp, Belgium. There was a blacksmith named Quentin, who fell in love with a painter’s daughter. The difference between their profession led the father not to accept their relationship. To earn his beloved hand for marriage, the blacksmith sneaked into the painter’s studio and painted a fly on his latest panel. It had such moderate realism that it resembled a real one and tried to fly it as a living insect. Quentin’s skill, determination and simplicity convinced him and got his daughter married to him. Finding his true love, Quentin became one of the greatest painters of his age. 

These stories illustrate the different forms of art in two different regions. Chinese artists convey a deep purpose and emotion and give an essence of vitality while the Europeans are concerned about external appearances and a perfect illusionistic likeness. The author talks about the Chinese concept of ‘shanshui’ which means mountain-river. She also familiarises the concepts of “yang” and “yin”.

Conclusion of Landscape to Soul

Finally in the landscape of soul summary ‘Getting Inside ‘Outsider Art’ author Brinda Suri, talks about the notion of ‘art brut.’ She explicates about artists who are gifted and do not require formal training, yet they are comfortable and can use unconventional methods of art that crafted artists cannot. They instil a deep sense of spirituality in their work that makes it more real than it looks. They want the audience to find their way into the work and find different approaches to admiring and analyzing the artwork.  The author cites it by referring to the Rock Garden in Chandigarh, designed by Nek Chand. He was also an eccentric genius with a vision to think above and beyond his contemporaries. 

Therefore, we discover that art is a constant form which has rich antiquity and it cannot fit inside any particular crate or label.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Question 1. Explain briefly What happened to Wu Daozi, the Painter in the Chapter ‘Landscape of the Soul’.

Answer: The eighth-century Chinese painter Wu Daozi was appointed by the Tang Emperor Xuanzong to decorate the palace wall. The genius Wu Daozi had hidden the art behind a screen, and only the Emperor could see it when desired. Wu Daoji painted a beautiful midline of mountains, waterfalls, river, clouds and blue skies, wildlife, and people living harmoniously in a radiant environment. Then the artist showed out a cave painted by him in the foothills of the mountain and told the Emperor that a spirit dwelled in that cave. While painting Wu clapped his hands near the cave, and the passage of the cave magically opened. Wu gets inside the cave and vanishes into thin air before anyone else could react. It opened a portal to a different world. That was the last painting of Wu Daozi. The story became a Chinese legend and part of rich folklore from writers and philosophers such as Confucius and Zhuangzi.

Question 2. Describe the Chinese Philosophy Shanshui. 

Answer: Shanshui art is not a typical kind of painting. Firstly, when Chinese artists work on a painting, they do not try to display an image of what they have seen in nature, but what they have imagined about nature. Shanshui painting only uses ink and a brush. Rivers and Mountains and waterfalls are notable in this art form. It familiarises the concepts of “yang” and “yin”.

Yang is vertical; it is stable, dry, warm, active and masculine. Yin is horizontal; it is the water holding on the earth, fluid, cold and moist. It is a robust understanding of Daoism.