In my opinion, based on what I know, have seen, heard, and read, Western art tends towards “filling up a space” wth something whereas Eastern art tends to speak of the space which it surrounds. I do not speak here of iconographic artwork- whether it be Christian imagery or Tibetan Thankas. Although those hold elements of this concept, what we can primarily look at are things like Japanese screen paintings, Chinese art and design, and the arts of Southeast Asia versus the pre-20th century arts of the Western world, most significantly Europe and America. One can detect a transition in what is the predominanly Western approach of filling up the space in the early part of the 20th century in European artworks. This was the birth of modern art and the change was hastened by the newly translated and circulated Eastern texts which had made their way into Western cultures. Like the dawning of the concept of “perspective” during the Rennaissance and the change which that wrought upon the minds of artists, the new concepts of space as empty rather than needing to be filled with something turned the artworld on it’s head once more.
People have asked me if I have been to or studied art in the East. I have not. However, one does not need to go there to understand what it is they are working with. In fact, what we call “Eastern Influence” is merely a confluence of words which we use to describe an approach to creating. Once a person has tasted that aesthetic, has tapped into that vibration, one understands, from the inside out, what it is speaking of and what it is speaking to.
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