A large gathering of figures looks toward a young male figure gesticulating to the crowd on the right with his back to the viewer. Two imposing older male figures are positioned to the left of the young man. The architectural cityscape recedes perspectivally in the distance. A large domed building looms over the horizon line.
A rough, red rock seems to grow out of the hillside, almost as organically as the orchids growing next to it. Calligraphic text is in the upper left corner.
Literati theory considered paintings modes of personal expression to be created for private occasions in which they were shared and appreciated by circles of friends. The creation of works with peer artists was also an established literati concept and practice. This painting is a cooperative work by Chang Ku-nien and his artist friends. Cooperative work celebrated respectful mutual relationships and reinforced affections within groups of painters. Inscriptions on such works often declare their corporate nature, mentioning all of the artists’ names and specifying who has done what part. It is common for each artist to be responsible for the part of the painting that best reveals his or her talents. Yet who painted what is not clearly indicated in this work; most likely Chang Ku-nien painted the rock while Liu Yantao and Gao Yihong were responsible respectively for the inscription and orchids. Orchids were appealing subjects to scholar-artists, and their elegance and subtle fragrance have long been regarded as the emblem of righteous gentlemen.
In Orchids and Red Rock, although it was not clearly indicated who did what, Chang most likely painted the rock and his two friends from the Seven Friends Painting Club that he participated, Liu Yantao and Gao Yihong, were responsible for the inscription and orchids respectively. Naturally, in a cooperative work, each artist often takes on a subject best representing his/her talents. Appealing to scholar-artist, the elegance and subtle fragrance of orchids have long been regarded as the emblem of righteous gentlemen, thus a suitable subject for scholars alike.
This black and white photograph is a cropped close-up view of a light colored hat with a black band. The texture of the tightly woven straw and the ribbon band are depicted in sharp detail against a blank dark background.
This photograph was published in an exhibition catalogue for, "Tropism: Photographs". It was part of a series of his works from the 1970s exhibited under the title, "Chiaroscuro". In the introduction to this book he states, "I embrace the abstract in photography and exist on a few bits of order extracted from the chaos of reality."
The majestic figure of the Virgin with the infant Christ on her lap sits enthroned in the center of this painted panel. Her elaborate throne rests upon a dais and is enclosed on three sides by panels bristling with Gothic ornament. Two bishop saints holding croziers stand at the foot of the dais accompanied by two other saints who stand behind them, while fourteen angels crowd the background.
The Virgin and infant Christ sit in majesty upon an ornate throne surrounded by saints and angels. To the Virgin's right, at the foot of the dais, stands the bishop-saint Louis of Toulouse with St. John the Evangelist holding a quill pen behind him. Another bishop, St. Zenobius stands next to the other side of the dais accompanied by John the Baptist. Fourteen angels crowd the background on either side of the throne.
In the upper register of this folio a woman holds a child who is crowned and adorned with jewels. The golden hue of the infant, along with the fan held above their heads signifies the child’s importance. They sit in devotion before a Jina, indicated by his nudity—a trademark of Digambara Jina and a sign of purity.
Dedication of sacred books is required of Jain devotees, and book production reflects the integral relationship among the laity, monastic community, and the Jina. Commissioning a book fulfills the lay obligation of charity, while beholding a book helps the individual achieve the proper mental state for spiritual guidance. It was customary for a lay donor to commission a copy of a text for presentation to his spiritual teacher and ultimately to the monk’s temple library. Over the centuries, libraries received great quantities of texts, which were employed in the instruction of monks and nuns. Monks and nuns were discouraged, however, from practicing the art of painting: one text expressly warns them of the power of painting to arouse sensual feelings.
TOP IMAGE. On the bottom right appears a river, with at least three boats moored against her banks. Along the shore, in the central bottom area of the image, is a large groups of figures, potentially a local market area. In the center of the image is a plank bridge with figures carrying bundles, and the bridge (ramp) leads from the center to the top left, where it connects with a large brink palazzo-type structure. In the central background stands a large thatched and planked group of dwellings. A pile of barrels fill the bottom left corner.
BOTTOM IMAGE. A three-arch stone bridge with crossing figures spans the image from center right edge to the bottom left corner. Underneath pass small rapids with rocks. At the bottom right corner is a group of three, perhaps with a fishing pole; the left and right figures kneel, while the central figure stands with pole in hands, pointing up. A cross - perhaps a medieval pilgrimage marker - stands at the left-hand end of the bridge. On the right-hand side behind the bridge are tall stone pediments, perhaps dwellings or fortress-like walls. A distant part of the river and its structures can be seen in the left-hand corner.
TOP IMAGE. A genre market scene on the banks of a river, with houses and architectural structures.
BOTTOM IMAGE. A three-arch bridge over small rapids with travellers and fisherman. Architectural structures in the background and on the remote river banks in the bottom left corner.