“As for landscape, its material form exists, but its flavour is incorporeal.“
Zong Bing (around 400 C.E.), Preface on Landscape Painting, transl. James Cahill
Earlier I have written about the mood of a landscape much in the way Zong Bing talks about its “flavour”. What both terms mean is an inherent quality of a landscape, something that the artist detects, not something he or she adds to it. What the artist attempts is to become a conduit for the character, mood or “flavour” of a landscape.
During the history of landscape art this has been one of the major approaches to the subject, often called something like the “objective” school of landscape art. Whenever such a school became dominant, however, a counter-movement, a “subjective” school, was sure to follow.
Instead of searching for the flavour of the landscape, the subjective school imbues the landscape with a “flavour” or a message that is not inherent, but a reflection of the artists mind and mood. I paint this in a rather broad brush and these schools actually were at times difficult to distinguish. As a further disclaimer, generally I am certainly closer to the objective school and don’t want to sound too negative regarding the subjective approach. Everything in art is equally legitimate.(more…)