Thursday, October 16, 2003

we interrupt this interruption to bring you TUMORS

I've got new items up at Only the Chewiest Tumors, and they're looking for a home. What's new? you ask.

How about abstract Chinese calligraphy?

Yes, I may be pushing it, getting a little overambitious, especially since I'm still learning the characters. But I thought to myself... why not? The purists won't appreciate what I've done, but if they can get beyond their own classicism, they might actually like what they see.

This time around I scanned the puppies myself. The resolution wasn't that great so I ended up using the Photoshop "blur" and "sharpen" functions at the PC-bahng to tweak the images, which are still a bit blurred.

This first image is a smaller version of the Bodhidharma brush art I've been doing.

Mini Enlightened Hairiness

Something to note: I've been trying to incorporate some symbolism in the Dalma Daesa art (only recently; not all the artwork is this way). The number of strokes in Bodhidharma's beard is 16, referring to the 16 Nahan (they're the 18 Lohan in China, I think), some of the Buddha's original followers. Dalma's mustache is done in six strokes to symbolize the six years of the Buddha's go haeng sang, that period of his life when he practiced deep austerity. The Buddha claimed he became so emaciated that he was able to place his hand on his stomach and feel his spine.

I'll never know that feeling, thank God.

Dalma's nose is made by four strokes-- the Four Noble Truths. If you add the strokes and dots making up Dalma's eyes and the wrinkle between them, you get eight-- the Eightfold Path (P'al Jeong Do, or "Eight Correct Ways" in Sino-Korean). Dalma's eyebrows total six strokes, representing the Six Perfections (paramitas, the yuk baramil in Sino-Korean).

And the biggest symbol is perhaps too abstract to even notice: Dalma's robe is suggested by two serpentine strokes, and he's got a halo. If you count those as three strokes, and add Dalma's face to get four-- and then LOOK CAREFULLY, you may notice that the gestalt is the character shim, or mind. I admit it's a stretch, but I did do it deliberately.

The next picture is an example of abstract calligraphy. My friend Solie Choi suggested I should make some smaller pieces to complement the bigger ones, so I decided to see what would happen if I played with the characters a bit. I think you experts will have noted that I didn't simply play with them randomly-- there is indeed some method to the madness. Here is "Mu A," or "no self":

No Self

If you're a purist, you'll hate it. If you're not, bless you. The next one is "Seong Do," which means "enlightenment" or "attaining the Tao."

Enlightenment, or Seong Do-- Attaining the Tao

Finally, I'm also offering this little statement on nondualism, "Eum Yang Bul I," or "yin and yang are not-two." When you step back from the Great Ultimate symbol, the T'aegeuk, the two swirling elements collapse into one. But that one is a symbol for capital-O "One," also known in religious circles as "one without a second." The nondualistic One.

Eum Yang Bul I:  Yin and Yang are Not-Two, a statement about nondualism

Please smack me if I sound like I'm a tour guide in an art gallery.

In any case, go give the Tumors a visit. If you feel so inclined, purchase something. I'll get it out to you as quickly as I can, and remember: every work is unique. No prints when it comes to the brush art. I don't skimp.

Oh, by the way, I should note something: there's a good reason to buy a scroll instead of just the artwork. When they make scrolls in Insa-dong (an art district in Seoul, for you newbies), they use a press. I asked. This is important because calligraphy tends to leave the paper (hwa seon ji) somewhat wrinkled as the ink merges with it. This is only natural, but caveat emptor: when you buy "artwork-only" from me, you're getting the art in its most natural, uncivilized state, and that means it'll be slightly wrinkled. Drop some water on a piece of stationery and watch it dry; you'll see what I mean. So unless you can find expert framers and scroll-makers near you who know how to deal with this kind of product, I strongly suggest opting for the completed scroll. (In case you're wondering, I'm not making any money off the extra cost for scrollwork.) The end product will be smooth and flat, like many Korean women's thoracic and gluteal regions.

No comments: