Editor’s Word: The Beauty of Impermanence
The magnolias upon the tips of trees,
Are burgeoning crimson buds throughout the mountains.
Silence by the streams no one sees,
Profusely they prosper and fall.
When the poem Magnolia Valley by Tang Dynasty poet Wang Wei first came to my mind amid a chilly autumn breeze, a sense of melancholic yet beautiful nostalgia was evoked. It was as though, within a short span, flowers had bloomed and fallen, and life had completed its cycle of coming into being, flourishing, withering, and finally dissolving into dust.
This inevitability of mortality encouraged reflections on the meaning and fleetingness of life and led to this issue’s theme, “The Beauty of Impermanence.” Through these pages, we present our readers with a desirable lifestyle enriched by timeless arts, a lifestyle that can inspire us to savour ever-present beauty amid the perpetual impermanence of life.
Standing in front of Yang Yi Syuan’s paintings, we feel beguiled by the serenity and grandness of nature. The dense inky mountains and forests appear to be both real and illusory. Their solemn presence is a testament to the repeated refinements Yang made with each brush stroke, as though he was personally planting each tree in the mountains. And he didn’t stop until his eyes were filled with verdant mountains and his ears were enchanted by songbird serenades.
When we walk under the sun, do we ever notice the constantly shifting shadows that always follow us? While they’re often forgotten, shadows enrich and beautify what we see with our eyes. Under the brush of painter Liu Wei Tsen, we discover a mysteriously bewitching world woven by shadows, a world that Liu describes as “filled with hope, vigour, and happiness.”
German philosopher Martin Heidegger once said that poetry is the essence of all artistic expressions, and Liu Linglie’s paintings exemplify a poetic Eastern elegance. The artist’s paintings are simple, gentle, and brimming with the tender emotions evoked by childhood memories of ancient poetry. These lyrical verses have since been transformed into the enigmatic moon, the brisk autumn breeze, and the velvety aroma of flowers we sense in her paintings.
In Chang Kuo Erh’s world, the withering leaves and inconspicuous grass become his muses. Deeply influenced by Neo-Confucian thoughts, Chang integrates ancient aesthetic concepts with Western oil painting techniques, capturing the essence of a subject with remarkable depth, while engaging viewers through his contemplative mindset and quest for inner harmony.
With the fall of an autumn leaf, artist Joyce Lin’s fate became inextricably entwined with the legendary art of Konoha Tenmoku. Through countless experiments and firings, Lin transformed delicate leaves into emotive pictorials on Tenmoku wares at temperatures of 1200 degrees Celsius, captivating us with a feeling of transcendence that can delight us in perpetuity.
As we enter into the season of vibrant foliage, I thought of another simple yet profound poem, Any Minute Can Be a Good Time, by the Zen master Hui-Kai:
Spring awakens us with an abundance of blossoms,
Autumn reposes the moon in serene luminance.
When the summer breeze rises—how nice and cool!
And winter snow paints the earth into white fairytales.
When nothing plagues your mind,
Any minute, you’ll find, can be a good time.
Let us enjoy the evanescent charm of the fall with its golden hues, embrace the transcending decay of the fallen leaves, and live fully in the now—for it is only then that the spirit of beauty is born.