Tuesday, June 21, 2011

FIGURATIVE EXPRESSIONISM/ 'Bird Philosophy' by Eric Whollem, 1985/ Chinese calligraphy/ ORIENTALIZING IDEOGRAMS/ Comments on Chuang Tzu, the Taoist philosopher

Bird Philosophy
by Eric Whollem
mixed media on paper
Collection of the artist
9" x 6"

Orientalizing Ideograms

In addition to my interests in prehistoric rock art, I have also
given considerable study to Asiatic calligraphy.

This painting incorporates ideograms that represent birds.
Seen in the image is an apparent Chinese gentleman. This
could well represent Chuang Tzu, my favorite Taoist nature
philosopher. I first read his writings in 1967. They had a big
impact on me.

Like Henry David Thoreau, Chuang Tzu was a nature hermit.
In my twenties I began to search out places to live in the rural
countryside. I have lived in Palermo, Feather Falls, Swedes' Flat,
and the Concow area of Butte County, California. Some of the
terrain in which I lived was oak covered foothills, other areas in
which I have lived were higher elevations with pines and cedars.

The granite of the Sierra Nevadas has always had a special
appeal to me. During the 1980's when this work was painted I was
living in Swedes' Flat. My favorite birds at this time were the
woodpeckers who had a nest in the gray pines near my eastern


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