Artists in China, France, the United States, and Japan created these works of art. Each artist created a unique mood related to a particular place on the earth; each also communicated a message about the natural world.
The two landscapes (Bamboo under Spring Rain and A Huntsman and Dogs), which are separated by time and culture, portray seasons—spring and fall—both literally and metaphorically. The still life (Sunflowers) and the geometric abstraction (Night Sea) both relate to natural phenomena that typically occur during summer. The Ceremonial Teahouse embodies a spiritual connection with nature, inclusive of all seasons.
The landscapes are composed in horizontal formats (rectangles that are wider than they are tall), the still life is in a vertical format, and the geometric abstraction is almost perfectly square. The teahouse is a combination of three-dimensional, rectangular, human-scale spaces. How do these various proportions contribute to the compositions and the meanings of these works of art? The landscapes emphasize views of the land itself, and in the case of the Chinese scroll painting, they unfold from right to left. Van Gogh painted Sunflowers on a canvas that is taller than it is wide, yet the flowers occupy a pale turquoise square just above the tabletop, whose equal proportions emphasize their size and vibrant energy. The geometric design of Night Sea appears to expand beyond the four equilateral sides of its square boundaries into a limitless universe of light and movement. The size and proportions of Ceremonial Teahouse create an intimate experience of respect, harmony, purity, and tranquility that connects humans with one another and with nature.