In the trembling grey of a spring dawn, when the birds were whispering in mysterious cadence among the trees, have you not felt that they were talking to their mates about the flowers?
-- Kakuzo Okakura, The Book of Tea
Dreaming the Southern Song Landscape, by Valerie Malenfer Ortiz:
"The most remarkable aspect of Song landscape painting was its role, comparable to that of poetry, of guiding the scholar-viewer toward a deeper understanding of the truth that lies beyond the forms.... To the scholar-elite of the Southern Song, landscape paintings of the type epitomized by Dream Journey embodied the highest philosophical truth." (p 7-8)
"One of the most significant aesthetic qualities of pictorial dream journeys is that they lift the place dreamed out of the normal category of experience. The blurred quality of the flickering images seems to deny the separateness of the objects these images represent." (p 156)
"The business of landscape painting -- nature's principles revealed as a process of transformation that reveals the operation of perception -- is to evoke a moment of contemplation, wherein man might discover his just relationship to an often inexplicable world." (p 156)
"Poetic knowledge mediates between understanding and being. It does not consist in a precisely defined style but in an emotional identification with the intuited nature of being....Concentration on poetic effect opened the viewer's mind to li, the organizing pattern of the cosmos." (p 157)
"The ideal of the Southern Song painter was to transcend his own materials and his own ego, so that the form of the object breathes itself upon the paper or silk, with the painter serving as a kind of medium between Nature and painting." (p 158)
My minimalist abstractions reference nature and the landscape, but in a poetic sense, not a literal translation. The dream journey I take through the landscape to find my connection to the cosmic whole is very much grounded in the Asian aesthetic of painting.