Wang, Lucia. 2016. Zen in Dialogue: Interpretation of Ink Painting by Charles Chu
The unconventional juxtaposition of the poem and the painting makes this 1987 work by Charles Chu (1918‒2008) difficult to interpret. The highly saturated ink of the calligraphy calls upon one’s attention immediately. The line of writing situated in the center eclipses the lighter shades of the landscape underneath. Although this type of overlapping composition often destroys the integrity of a work, it is simply not the case in this one. The synthesis, however, evokes a natural connection between the poem and the painting, and a conversation between the viewers and the artwork. The sense of coherence is accomplished by the implicit expression of water that connects the entire work. The painting and the poem both emphasize the clarity and fluidity of water in unconventional manners. Through the practice of extreme simplicity and asymmetrical devotion of energy, characteristic of Zen aesthetics, water facilitates the balance between the poem and the painting, and creates a holistic viewing experience charged with a poetic mood.