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Landscape poetry

My art history lessons are different. I give lectures to adults, and I try to talk more with children, play, cause “co-creation” in them. Especially exciting for both parties are classes on the landscape genre. The first lesson in landscape among first-graders (first-graders 10-11 years old at an art school) takes place traditionally – first you need to get acquainted with the features of the genre, its varieties, with the most famous Russian landscape painters. The real sensual education begins in the next lesson, which I have called “Landscape Poetry.” Examining landscape paintings, we will now try to poetically comprehend the image. Children themselves note that poets dedicate a lot of verses to nature, recall Lermontov, Pushkin, Tyutchev. For me, this is a very suitable moment when I can bring my students to an understanding of the proximity of painting and poetry.

It is known that the arts do not delineate their boundaries and do not reject kinship. The art of image, the art of words, music, like the smokes of three bonfires, combined, intertwined in a single space and participate in a common sacrament – the poetic development of the world. I would like the children to feel this deep connection as soon as possible. This would mean making their spiritual life more complex, filling it with associations, without which true creativity is impossible.

Hiroshige. Irises in Horikiri, 1857In different cultures, we know, there were periods when visual art was read in reflections of poetry, and poetry lived by the suggestions of art. As an example, I offer my students works of Japanese classical art. We also know that in the fine arts of Japan, a deep penetration into the natural world gave rise to the landscape genre much earlier than it appeared in European painting. A sense of nature permeates literature, painting, applied art of Japan since ancient times. The origins of such an attitude lie in the Japanese worldview – Shinto — he loves and respects nature, considering himself an integral part of it. As much as I can, I introduce the children to the lesson with the cult of admiring nature, which is inherent in the Japanese today, expressed in architecture, the art of arranging bouquets, and the tea ceremony, when everything serves the same purpose – to awaken a poetic image in the soul.

Children were shown decorative paintings on screens, scroll paintings, engravings by Japanese artists. They themselves notice that many images are devoted to sunrise and sunset, a certain hour of the day, holidays admiring the moon and cherry and plum blossoms, iris gardens in blossom, hills covered with snow, etc. Then I read them poems by Japanese poets, introduced them with the classic form of Japanese versification – hokku and tanka. They listened attentively, sometimes asked to be repeated, and poems that they especially liked were written down and learned.

For my part, I drew attention to the cohesion, continuity of the image and poetry and the fact that the aesthetics of both of them are based on the emphasized role of detail and subtext. At first, when I was reading poetry, the children tried to present a visible image, a picture (literally – how this poem “looks”), because the laconic three-poem with its precise find and beauty contributes very much to this.

Bass. Hiroshige. She shut her mouth tight.
Sea shell.
Intolerable heat!

Then, considering the Hokusai album, the guys, from the verses already read, chose poetic equivalents to some engravings. For example, the engraving “Moon, Persimmon and Grasshopper” verses were compared:

Bass. Hokusai. Persimmon moon and grasshopper. Quiet moonlit night.
Heard deep in the chestnut
The nucleolus gnaws the worm

Similar exercises were a prelude to subsequent creative tasks. The lesson ended with real creative ecstasy. One group of children composed three verses to their favorite landscape paintings. Signac’s landscapes were chosen from the proposed reproductions. (Paul Signac with extraordinary expressiveness writes sails that glide easily over water. With clean strokes, he paints them immersed in the luminous atmosphere of a sunny day.) For example, such lines were devoted to Sink’s Sails:

Signac. Port La Rochelle, 1921In the crystal sea
Among the clouds
I see a ship.


Signac. Port in Marseille, 1906 Like a dream
Ship sailing
From the rainbow of times.

Thus, the translation of one art into the language of another took place, which I aspired to in this lesson. At home, my students also decided to independently compose verses for some landscape.

Several people volunteered to perform another task – to draw a picture for Basset’s poems:

Autumn moon
Ink draws a pine
In the blue sky

The verse, of course, I chose. The result was unequal, but a couple of works were struck by simplicity and expressiveness, an accurate graphic hit. Of course, we discussed all our work and decided that we now know a little more about the world than before.

Yes, and we understand the painting a little better than before.

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