The taste of water

Dignified, modest gestures

Wen's journal contrasts to a small text he wrote to accompany a small painting. In it he tells of a recent outing and comments with conventional (but not necessarily insincere) remorse that those who were together may not find occasion to meet again. The emotion of this thought is realized in the light touch of the brush and the way the lines slip and fall away as the text progresses to the left. One may think of a voice tapering out. The moment in which Wen was gradually overcome by melancholy is frozen in an ink trace.

Wen's small script has been much admired. He sometimes used it to transcribe sutras and other ritual texts, creating small, portable volumes for private reflections.


  WEN Zhengming 文徵明 (1470-1559)
Rain over the Summer Hills
Hanging scroll. Ink and colour on paper
58.5 x 28.3 cm
Private collection

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