Landscape in Fog, Roy Lichtenstein

Today’s post is the sixth in my fortnight of postcard posts, where I draw a card at random from my big box of them and try to say what I think about it. Here’s the rest of them.

I think (the Chinese landscapes) impress people with having somewhat the same kind of mystery (historical) Chinese paintings have, but in my mind it’s a sort of pseudo-contemplative or mechanical subtlety…I’m not seriously doing a kind of Zen-like salute to the beauty of nature. It’s really supposed to look like a printed version.

—Roy Lichtenstein

I feel like I know something about being drawn to Chinese culture and yet only reproducing it in a superficial way. The serenity here is fake. You aren’t intended to learn much about the Song Dynasty here.

I’m thinking about the statue of the Buddha that I see when I sometimes go to the steam baths at York Hall, the Bethnal Green sports centre famous for boxing. He’s there not to remind us of the Dharma but to act as a signifier of Eastern serenity. The reason I’m not a Zen Buddhist is because I haven’t been able to persuade myself to do the really hard work: it’s all about practice and very little of it is stone gardens or drawing the perfect enso or landscape painting. Still, it’s hard not to feel the pull of the idea that we should strip everything back to its simplest representation. Never mind what Roy thought he was making, let’s all have a moment of calm. Mu.

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