Skip to content

François Jullien, The Great Image Has No Form, or On the Nonobject through Painting: A Review

弗兰科瓦·于连 《大象无形,或从绘画论非客体》读后感


Nadia Chaney

In The Great Image Has No Form, or On the Nonobject through Painting, François Jullien attempts to find a way to describe the meaning of undifferentiation in traditional Chinese painting. In every chapter, he re-examines the relationship of the painter to the arising-essence of the object and the painter’s desire to go upstream from the arising in order to paint with the object as the object would come to appear in the world. He describes the tradition of Chinese literati painting as an unbroken search for the non-object and the “foundation-font” of existence. In particular, the idea of the non-object is obscured, he says, by the dichotomy of presence and absence. Rather than this dichotomy, he tells us that presence and absence are a continuum in Chinese thought, and that they indicate the arising from and returning to (which is constantly occurring) of the world to an undifferentiated fount. This book may point toward a way out of the subject-object dichotomy, by offering access to a philosophy and creative tradition that does not compartmentalize time in terms of what is gone and what does not exist, but is in a constant state of emergence and transformation, so that time is part of space, and part of matter, and is not imaginary, but is material.


Nadia Chaney

1 European Graduate School, Switzerland

1 Jullien, F., (2009), The Great Image Has No Form or On the Nonobject in Painting, Chicago: University of Chicago Press

2 Paglen, T. (2016) Invisible Images (Your Pictures are Looking at You). The New Inquiry, 57 (Dec) p. 14-22.


Export Citation