Li Huayi, Some Thoughts On Painting

The impact of Chinese painting is quite different from that of Western painting. To my mind, traditional Chinese painting is like something viewed in the moonlight: quiet, meditative, two-dimensional. The Western tradition is like something viewed in the sunlight: bold, bright, three-dimensional. The measure, the essence, of Chinese painting is to be found in landscape; the essence of Western painting is to be found in the human figure, how things relate to people. For more than one thousand years much of Chinese painting has emphasized self-expression through the technique of brush and ink; prior to the last one hundred years, Western painting focused on the painting’s subject, not the technique.

~Li Huayi, from “The Monumental Landscapes of Li Huayi”

Chuck Close On Going Public

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“Contrary to what’s happening with undergraduate and graduate students today — where collectors are buying their work and they’re in shows while they’re still in school — I actually had a number of opportunities to show my work, and I chose not to until 1968. That was a very conscious decision that had to do with the work. I had a very strong belief — I still do — that the act of going public is a very important decision. Everything you do from the point in which you go public is part of the public record and is out there and you cannot get it back. Anything before the time you go public is nobody’s business and you don’t have to talk about it, you don’t have to show it, you’re not responsible, you can destroy it all or whatever. But there is something about that decision, ‘OK, I think I can put my neck on the line for this work and I feel strongly enough about it that I will live with however I feel about it later. This is now part of the public realm.’”

~Chuck Close, from In the Painter’s Studio, by Joe Fig (p36)

Impatience, Mother of Folly

“The abbreviators of works do injury to knowledge and to love, for love of anything is the offspring of knowledge, love being more fervent as knowledge is more certain, and certainty springs from a thorough knowledge of all those parts which united compose the whole…truly it is impatience, mother of folly, which praises brevity.”

~Leonardo da Vinci, c.1510

The Interference of Words

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“In prose, the worst thing one can do with words is to surrender to them. When you think of a concrete object, you think wordlessly, and then, if you want to describe the thing you have been visualizing, you probably hunt about till you find the exact words that seem to fit it. When you think of something abstract you are more inclined to use words from the start, and unless you make a conscious effort to prevent it, the existing dialect will come rushing in and do the job for you, at the expense of blurring or even changing your meaning. Probably it is better to put off using words as long as possible and get one’s meaning clear as one can through pictures or sensations.”

~George Orwell “Politics and the English Language,” 1968

The Gift

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“A work of art is a gift, not a commodity. . . . Every modern artist who has chosen to labor with a gift must sooner or later wonder how he or she is to survive in a society dominated by market exchange. And if the fruits of a gift are gifts themselves, how is the artist to nourish himself, spiritually as well as materially, in an age whose values are market values and whose commerce consists almost exclusively in the purchase and sale of commodities?”

~Lewis Hyde, “The Gift”