War (2008)

In Mandarin Chinese, the two large red characters read “zhan zheng” and translated, mean “war.”

The two lines of black characters on the right and two lines on the left are excerpts from the Dao De Jing, Ch. 31, written around 2,500 years ago by the Chinese sage Laozi.

(Right side, read from top to bottom, starting on the right):
Fine weapons of war foretell evil, even things seem to hate them.
Therefore a man of Tao does not set his heart upon them.  Peace and tranquility are best.


(Left side):
To rejoice over a victory is to rejoice over the slaughter of men.
Because many people have been killed, it is only right that all survivors should mourn for them.  Hence, even a victory should be treated as a funeral.


The calligraphy is executed in a hasty, crude form that reflects the destruction, harshness, and lack of beauty that accompany war.

Inscription at bottom of page:

“March 2003, I heard the news that the United States invaded Iraq.
I read Laozi, chapter 31 and wept.”


The row of three small characters left of center is my artist’s name (Chuan Wanqu), which means “River Winding.”  That my signature did not escape the uncontrolled crimson splatter is a poignant reminder of how war, especially one that is contrived and unjustified, injures and diminishes us all.  

Size:  46 x 31.5 inches

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