"Foreground and Background"

by Dr. Larry Morris


When we look at a traditional painting from our Western Culture, we immediately note the importance of the foreground. For instance, in Western portraiture, the background of the painting exists merely to enhance the portrait on the foreground. In the West, we have tendency to single out the individual and isolate him from his background. In the East, particularly in Chinese and Japanese landscape painting, we see a very different view of reality. Human beings are typically presented as very tiny figures within a vast cosmic landscape. In these pictures, we see humanity living within a vast spiritual and natural universe. We too live from within that infinite interwoveness of life and we find our true peace, freedom and fullfillment in recognizing our oneness with all things. We discover that we are the foreground and we are the background too.