Eighth century painter Wu Daozi was asked by the Tang Emperor Xuanzong to paint a landscape to decorate a palace wall. The master hid his work behind a screen. Only the Emperor could see it. The Emperor admired the wonderful scene. He discovered forests, high mountains, waterfalls, clouds floating in the enormous sky, men on hilly paths and birds in flight. Then the painter asked the king respectfully to look in a cave at the foot of the mountain. He said a spirit lived there. The painter clapped his hands. The entrance to the cave opened. The painter remarked that the cave was very splendid from inside. He offered to show the way to His Majesty. The painter entered the cave, but the entrance closed behind him. The Emperor was astonished. Before he could move or speak a word, the painting had vanished from the wall. Not a sign of Wu Daozi’s brush was left. The artist was never seen again. This was his last painting. Take another famous Chinese story about a painter. He would not draw the eye of a dragon he had painted. He feared that it would fly out of the painting. Such stories played an important part in China’s traditional education. The books of Confucius and Zhuangzi are full of them. They helped the master to guide his disciple in the right direction. These stories reveal the spirit in which art was considered. The writer then compares these stories to an old story from his own country Flanders. He finds this story most representative of Western painting. In 15th century Antwerp, a skilled blacksmith named Quinten Metsys fell in love with a painter’s daughter. The father of the girl would not accept a son-in-law in such a profession. One day Quinten went into the painter’s studio secretly. He painted a fly on the master’s latest painting. It was painted with delicate realism. The painter took it for a real one. He tried to hit it away. Then he realised the matter. He took Quinten as an apprentice. Then Quinten married his beloved. He went on to become one of the most famous painters of his age. The above stories from China and Flanders illustrate what each form of art is trying to achieve. In Europe the aim is a perfect illusionistic likeness. In Asia the stress is on the essence of inner life and spirit. The Chinese Emperor gets a painting painted. He appreciates its outer appearance. The artist reveals to him the true meaning of his work. The emperor may rule over the region he has conquered but only the artist knows the way. The painting is gone but the artist has reached his goal. He is now beyond any material appearance. A western painting reproduces an actual view. The European painter wants the beholders to look at a particular landscape from a specific angle, i.e. exactly as he saw it. The Chinese painter does not choose a single viewpoint. His landscape is not a ‘real’ one. One can enter it from any point and travel in it in a leisurely movement. This is more true in the case of horizontal scroll. Here one slowly opens one section of the painting, then rolls it up and moves on to the other. This adds a dimension of time. It also requires the active participation of the viewer—a participation which is physical as well as mental. The European painter wants the viewer to borrow his eyes. The Chinese painter does not want him to do so. He wants the viewer to enter his mind. The landscape is an inner one, a spiritual and conceptual space. This concept is expressed as ‘shanshui’ which literally means ‘mountain-water’. Used together they represent the word ‘Landscape’. The mountain is ‘yang’, while the water is ‘yin’. The interaction of yin and yang is a fundamental notion of Daoism. There is a third essential element also—the middle void, where their interaction takes place. This can be compared with the yogic practice of pranayam breathe in, retain, breathe out. The suspension of breath is the void where meditation occurs. The middle void is essential. Nothing can happen without it. Hence the white unpainted space is very important in Chinese landscape. Man finds a fundamental role in this space—between Heaven and Earth. He becomes the medium of communication between both poles of the universe. His presence is essential. He is the eye of the landscape. French painter Jean Dubuffet first created the concept of ‘art brut’ or ‘raw art’ in the 1940s. Then the art of the untrained visionary was of minority interest. The ‘outsider art’ has gradually become the fastest growing area of interest in international modern art. This particular type of work is the creation of those who have ‘no right’ to be artists, as they have received no formal training, yet they show talent and artistic insight. The work of 80 year old Nek Chand is India’s biggest contribution to ‘outsider art’. He has made a garden sculpted with stone and recycled material. It is known to the world today as the Rock Garden, at Chandigarh. The recently released 50th scene (spring 2005) of Raw Vision, a UK-based magazine pioneer in outsider art publication, features Nek Chand, and his Rock Garden sculpture ‘Women by the waterfall’ on its anniversary issue’s cover. His art has been recognised as an outstanding testimony of the difference a single man can make when he lives his dream. The Swiss Commission for UNESCO will be honouring him by way of a five month interactive show of his works. Nek Chand says that walking through the garden and watching people enjoy his creation is the biggest reward for him.