The Title “A Lotus Pond Has Carp” suggests profound Philosophical implications that transcend everyday life. In addition to its masterful artistry, the painting contains subtle messages of the Dao and its fruits. The lyrics on the left and right sides of this work correspond perfectly with the image of the fish, forming a whole that awakens and enlightens, richly rewarding its viewers.
Why is this painting so artistically enchanting that it stirs the hearts of those who see it? One reason is that the fish are depicted with uncanny realism. The swimming carp are infused with vitality. The painting’s details clearly reveal the damage done to the carp’s skin, accumulated over a lifetime in the water, through lines that fade in and out. Appearing as delicate as a fine gauze, the translucent fins, for example, possess a natural realism. Texture and spirit are captured with utter precision, providing the viewer with stirring aesthetic pleasure. The surface and bottom of the pond are depicted with a wonderfully hazy charm, while the lotus flowers, leaves, and pods are portrayed in bold freehand brushwork with distinct and unusual brushstrokes rapidly applied.
The painting is mainly composed of back ink and rich colors. Only a few brushstrokes were used to create each vibrantly red flower, which seem to emit a pure fragrance. The hanging lotus pods embellish the painting, conveying an elegant contrast of hues and instilling a sense of vitality. As the fish swim about, free of any inhibition, the sunlight faintly reflecting off the water ripples provides the illusion of movement that occurs in the natural world.
When examined more closely, the painting has an intricate style to ascertain, for it seems to transcend realistic fine brushwork and convey the feeling of freehand brushwork. It is not in the style of conventional paintings. Instead, freehand brushwork was applied to produce the effect of fine brushwork with close attention to detail.
Fine brushwork was applied that transcends realism. The real and the surreal blend, resulting in a work that excels the beauty of a natural lotus pond. It represents a combination of techniques from the “Menglong” style of painting and bold, large-scale freehand brushwork.
For the painting, H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III composed these lyrics of a Dao song: “No Dao exists on the high mountain, yet hearts yearn to go there. A lotus pond has carp; men have inquired about them. Which path leads to the truth is worth pondering. It would be better to look tranquil to our original nature, like a lotus flower sitting over its leaves in tranquility.” These lyrics speak of mysteries unknown to the ordinary person – seeing fish, not as fish; seeing water, not as water; no Dao exists on the high mountain, so no value exists in searching for it; and the fish have neither life nor death.
To understand the origin of the painting, we must ask: where did the fish come from? What state of realization was relied upon and gave birth to this exquisite painting? What form of realization manifested this mysterious, hazy, and illusory painting? The magical illusion of the fish and water is nothing more than a superficial image. Spirit is within; A life force underlies spirit. Spirit is empty or nothingness. The original essence of all things is neither empty nor substantive. Everything illusory and impermanent quickly changes in time and space, but their original nature remains constant. Thus, the lyrics of the Dao song continue: “To find our original nature, do not seek the source, as the source is our original nature, tranquil and unmoving, like a lotus flower sitting over its leaves in tranquility. There is no such thing as arising, passing away, and change. From this surpassing wisdom, usages that arise from Buddha-nature will naturally manifest. These usages include calligraphy and painting. Only in such a way is a consummate work created.” Thus, one should understand the tremendous meaning of this song of Dao written in this painting. Profound mysteries are deeply hidden within it.
In case the viewer remains oblivious to right stanza, on the left side of the painting, the second stanza of the song continues with: “The carp rely on the Dao, and the Dao awakens the fish.” The Dao refers to the state of holy ones, a realm that transcends the realm of ordinary people. It does not refer to regular abilities. The artist created this carp painting based on such a holy state. “The Dao awakens the fish” means that this painting of carp in a lotus pond was accomplished based on the wisdom of the transcendent Dao. Only with such wisdom could this lifelike, graceful scene of carp swimming in water be painted, a setting that combines the real and the surreal, emptiness and substance in such a wondrously appealing way. This scene of carp complimented by the boldly and powerfully depicted lotus leaves results from the artist’s awakening to the holy Dao.
This painting of carp, then, is merely an expression of one who has attained the Dao and reached enlightenment. Thus, this work is not just an ordinary combination of brush strokes, color, ink, and water. Instead, it results from techniques derived from the beautiful application of holy wisdom. The profound mysteries contained in “A Lotus Pond Has Carp” cannot possibly be conveyed by the superficial meaning of the words in its title! Actually, this explanation is entirely unnecessary. All those with discerning eyes will understand once they see the lyrics of the Dao song and the calligraphic skills with which they were written on the painting.
A Chinese Painting Conveys Profound and Enchanting Meaning
#DorjeChangBuddhaIII #HHDorjeChangBuddhaIII#DorjeChangBuddha#IAMA#InternationalArtMuseumofAmerica#ChinesePaintings#Carp #LotusPond #Painting #Lotus
Source: https://new.artsmia.org/exhibition/the-three-perfections-image-poem-and-calligraphy-in-chinese-painting, iamasf.org