Artist Guy Laramee is back with a new series of extraordinary book carvings and this time they pay tribute to Han Shan, a Chinese Hermit poet. For those unfamiliar with his work, Laramee meticulously sculpts landscapes, like oceans and hills, into encyclopedias and other large books. In this case, his works are centered around steep cliffs and mysterious caverns, similar to the ones a person would find in the wild mountains of southern China.
According to Laramee, “Han Shan used to write his poems on trees and rock and villagers collected them. They have been gathered in what is now called the Cold Mountain Poems. His poetry inspired the Beat Generation as well as adepts of Zen in America.
“Han Shan's poetry appears to celebrate a free life style, the life style of a hermit who abandoned all ties to the world. But this is only the surface. When one scratches a bit, one finds a concrete description of the mind state of someone who is, indeed, free from the world, not because he is living in these cold mountains all by himself, but rather because he got a direct insight into no-mind, what people use to call ‘awakening’.
“Deeply touched by Han Shan's poetry, I humbly tried, not to illustrate them, but to paint and carve from the very place where he stood. Han Shan showed me that every place can be a Cold Mountain, every person a hermit and every moment a moon light party.”
As for me, I delight in the everyday Way,
Among mist-wrapped vines and rocky caves.
Here in the wilderness I am completely free,
With my friends, the white cloud, idling forever.
There are roads, but they do not lead to the world;
Since I am mindless, w ho can rouse my thoughts?
On a bed of stones I sit, alone in the night,
While the moon climbs up Cold Mountain.
-Han San, 9th century