Saturday, January 16, 2016


崂山 Laoshan, the highest peak along China's coast, is one of the sacred mountains of Daoism. This isn't the highest point, but you get the idea. What took my breath away here was not the craggy skyline, spectacular though that is, but the grid-like rock pattern on the nearer mount. I've seen such grids in landscape paintings and assumed they were a convention (and not one whose point I saw). Turns out that, like the mottling of other mountainsides by bushes, the slender waterfalls falling great distances like a single straight white line, and the pines on bulbous promontories above oceans of cloud, these conventions are based in actual scenery! I've had the experiencer more than a few times now of discovering that works I'd thought stylized, abstracted, transformed by an artist's distinctive vision are in fact, well, pretty realistic. It's happened in Australia and in Paris, too: the perks of living abroad! (But still: am I now seeing this mountain here, or, with eyes trained by painting, seeing a Chinese sacred mountain?)

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