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Zen and Jackson Pollock

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Mariah Smith

on 7 May 2013

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Transcript of Zen and Jackson Pollock

Zen Buddhism &
Aesthetics Zen Painting &
Calligraphy Jackson Pollock &
Abstract Expressionism What is Zen? The Four Noble Truths:
1. Life is suffering
2. Desire is the origin of suffering
3. Cessation of suffering is attainable
4. Desire is overcome using the 8 Fold Path THE Buddha - Siddhartha Gautama
563-483 BCE Core Concepts:

Sunyata = emptiness

"Form here is emptiness, emptiness is form;
form is no other than emptiness, emptiness
is no other than form...all things are characterized
with emptiness; they are not born, they are not
annihilated; they are not tainted, they are not
immaculate, they do not increase, they do
not decrease."
- Heart (of Perfect Wisdom) Sutra Impermanence

"All composite things
Are like a dream, a phantasm, a bubble, a shadow
They are thus to be regarded."

- The Diamond Sutra Wabi & Sabi

Wabi = loneliness
Sabi = withered, worn Ma

Ma = used to describe
time and space as
well the experience
of something in
Grace Tong (1942- ) Painting in Service of Zen

Painting and Calligraphy was used as both a way to represent Zen concepts, stories, and values and as a form of practice

Knowing and doing become ONE Illusion

"Practice illusion by means of illusion."
-Perfect Enlightenment Sutra Sesshu Toyo (born c. 1420),
Broken Ink Landscape What do you see in this painting?

How do the aesthetic choices represent the Zen concepts of impermanence
and illusion?

Do you see other Zen concepts being represented? What about this painting?
Is this Zen?

What aesthetic
elements reflect Zen concepts? Sesshu,
Winter Landscape We turn now to Calligraphy Note the expressive quality
of the strokes

What do you think
the artist was trying to convey? Kasumi Bunsho,
Dragon Calligraphy How does this painting capture
the essence of the sword?

How is this Zen? Kasumi Bunsho
Sword "Because the essential element in calligraphy is textual, content is an integral part of expression. Therefore, I use ancient literature and poetry to reflect the feelings that affect me most deeply. I use poetic and literary lines that cause people to reflect deeply, then take the abstract intent to create concrete images through creative thinking and imagination. This image is my calligraphy. These concrete images include the composition, form, and structure of the character. The relationship between the written characters, that is, the size of the character,the weight, height, thickness or thinness and the speed used in wielding the brush, the density in the use of ink and water and degree of wetness, all serve to provide a unified and organic form to the intended meaning of the written word and its artistic image. Calligraphy is transforming meaningful content into visual expression."

- from "The Living Brush" Live Japanese Calligraphy
by Miyu Tamamura Jackson Pollock
Untitled (Woman with Skeleton)
c. 1938-1941
Oil on Wood
Washburn Gallery, New York Jose Clemente Orozco
Gods of the Modern World,
Panel 12 of The Epic of American
Civilization, 1932-1934
Fresco mural
Dartmouth College Jackson Pollock
1912-1956 "My painting does not come from the easel. I hardly ever stretch my canvas before painting. I prefer to tack the unstretched canvas to the hard wall or the floor. I need the resistance of a hard surface. On the floor I am more at ease. I feel nearer, more part of the painting, since this way I can walk around it, work from the four sides and literally be IN the painting. This is akin to the method of the Indian sand painters of the West.

I continue to get further away from the usual painter's tools such as easel, palette, brushes etc. I prefer sticks, trowels, knives and dripping fluid paint or a heavy impasto with sand, broken glass and other foreign matter added.

- Jackson Pollock, 1947-48 interview in Possibilities When I am IN my painting, I'm not aware of what I'm doing. It is only after a sort of "get acquainted" period that I see what I have been about. I have no fear of making changes, destroying the image, etc., because the painting has a life of its own. I try to let it come through. It is only when I lose contact with the painting that the result is a mess. Otherwise there is pure harmony, an easy give and take, and the painting comes out well. Jackson Pollock
Number 1A, 1948
Museum of Modern Art, New York Jackson Pollock 51
Dir. Hans Namuth &
Paul Falkenberg, 1951 Is Pollock Really Zen? John Cage Willem de Kooning Mark Rothko While watching, think about
the similarities and differences between Pollock's process and the Miyu Tamamura calligraphy video Jackson Pollock
Autumn Rhythm (Number 30), 1950
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
New York Alok Hsu Kwand-Han
Morning Heart in the Middle East, 2012 Similarities? Differences? Jackson Pollock
Number 32, 1950
Dusseldorf Nantembo
Staff Now it's your turn!

In-Class Jackson Pollock Project Materials:

chip-board or canvas
acrylic paint tubes
sponge brushes
newspapers to lay down
plastic cups
coffee stirrers Instructions:

Use the liquid acrylic paints
to mimic Pollock's drip-painting
method on your canvas. Try to
express whatever your feeling
or thinking about right now. Feel
free to use any combination of
colors. Non-Duality There is no differentiation between the self and the universe or the mind and the body. All thing are ONE.
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