PROCESS PAINTING: A SPIRITUAL PURSUIT
Unlike Western ideas in painting, the concepts of
Chinese Landscape painting focus on process.
Painting in Europe were often used as a tool to
narrate biblical stories or as a type of
photographic record. The primary goal being to
In Chinese Painting the experience of painting is
of great importance. Artists did not strive for
perfection but for a spiritual journey.
Northern Song Dynasty
Jin Dynasty (115-1234)
The ancient Chinese landscape artist paints the
landscape in order to achieve a spiritual relationship
with the subject. As the Chinese artist paints the
mountains he travels through them and climbs to
peaks that may be otherwise unreachable.
REMINISCENCE OF JIAN RIVER
Ming Dynasty (1368-1644)
It is no revolutionary idea that the act of
painting can help an artist achieve more than
completing an aesthetically pleasing art work.
Many cultures in addition to the Chinese use
painting as a spiritual or philological tool.
DRUNK IN AUTUMN WOODS
Shitao (Zhu Ruoji)
Quing Dynasty (1644-1911)
When discussing Jackson Pollock’s work
one can easily see relationships to
Chinese Landscape paintings.
Not only are there similarities when it
comes to gesture, color palette and
compositional, but the artist’s presence
You can visualize the artists hand
making brush strokes and marks.
In attempts to fight his alcoholism,
Pollock underwent Jungian
psychotherapy which included engaging
him through his art.
Carl Jung’s theories relied heavily on the
idea that the human mind is inherently
religious; that in order to maintain
mental health religion is necessary.
When thinking about the physicality and
concentration involved in Pollock’s work,
one can see relationships to other
cultural methods of prayer or meditation
such as Navajo and Tibetan Sand
“Today painters do not have to go to a subject matter
outside of themselves. Most modern painters work from a
different source. They work from within.” –Jackson Pollock
Jackson Pollock studied
Navajo Sand Paintings; The
similarities are apparent.
Navajo Medicine Men create
Sand Paintings as a religious
rite. The ceremony is
performed to strengthen or
heal an individual.
Sand is made of ground flower, corn and rocks.
NAVAJO SAND PAINTING
A sick Navajo child takes part in the Sand Painting ceremony.
During the ceremony the
individual must sit within the
painting. Illness is sucked out
through this process.
Afterwards the sand painting
must be destroyed. The idea
being that the painting
contains the poison.
Completed Sand Paintings are
not to be preserved physically
or through photograph
because is would enable evil
or sickness to live on.
Two Navajo medicine men create a sand painting
Tibetan sand paintings
are created with sand
made from precious
stones. After the
mandala is completed it
is destroyed symbolizing
the impermanence of
Three Buddhist monks from the Deprung Loseling Monastery
in India working on a sand mandala.
The mandala serves as a tool for guiding monks to the path to enlightenment. Monks
achieve a state of meditation through intense focus ; they visualize the mandala as a
three dimensional palace with deities within.
Jackson Pollock, jacksonpollock.org
Collective VISION Statesman
Photo & Multimedia Blog,
Hurvitz, Leon. "Tsung Ping's
Comments on Landscape
Painting." (1970): pages 146-56.
Freer Sackler Smithsonian
Museum of Asian Art Website,
45. Navajo Sand Paintings, Kenneth E.
Foster, Man , Vol. 63, (Mar., 1963), pp.
43-44 Published by: Royal
Anthropological Institute of Great Britain