Wang Wusheng, North Sea Guest House, taken at Lion Peak, November 1984, 4 PM (detail). From Celestial Realm: The Yellow Mountains of China
Dogen, one of Japan’s foremost medieval Zen priests, wrote in the Sansui-kyo chapter of the Shobogenzo that “to view sansui is to meet yourself before you were born.” The self before birth is a self beyond time and space. Dogen, wrote that this self is a ‘formless self’ no one has ever seen. This yet unformed self is the essence of sansui. A depiction of something beyond time and space whose appearance is yet unformed. As I stood before Wang’s photographic sansui, I could feel this acutely.
Wang’s stoicism shows itself in the strategic placement of of dark forms, at times centering the frame on forms whose blurring and gradation are overpowered by blackness.
Not mere shadows, the depth of his blacks represent …void and the silence of time.
A dark mass of mountains is not dead space but the very soul of the living mountains. The white sky in his photographs is not an empty sky but a sky shown after the passing of a raging storm, now bathed in sunlight.
–Seigo Matsuoka (excerpt from Photographic Sansui)
Born in the province of Anhui, Wang Wunsheng (1945-) has been photographing the Yellow Mountains since 1974.
Celestial Realm | The Yellow Mountains of China
Wang Wusheng : Wu Hung : Damian Harper : Seigo Matsuoka
Abbeville Press, 2005 via: historyofourworld.wordpress