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Soft Water





Nothing in this world is as soft and yielding as water. Yet for attacking the hard and strong none can triumph so easily. It is weak, yet none can equal it. It is soft, yet none can wear it away. Everyone knows that the soft overcomes the hard and the yielding triumphs over the rigid. Why then so little faith? Why can no one practice it?” (From the Tao Te Ching of Lao Tze, verse 78, translation by Jonathan Star N.Y. 2001).


Six centuries before the birth of Christ, a Chinese sage named Lao Tse reflected upon the power of water, using its imagery to teach about the strength and wisdom of softness. Knowing how and when to become yielding and pliant to deflect the force of opposition is also a practice taught in the martial art called Tai Chi: “when my opponent is strong, I am soft”.


 The piece I called “Soft Water”, was also inspired by the gentlest aspect of Water. When water encounters resistance, it flows over, wearing down the obstacle kindly, but relentlessly: it is the irresistible strength of gentle persistence. It is a softness that erodes, shapes, corrodes and overcomes the strongest things.


When it meets obstacles, Water somehow finds its way seeking any opportunity to penetrate, infiltrate and flood the smallest space. It takes the shape of whatever it finds itself in and adapts to changing conditions with flowing ease. It then works on expanding beyond these new limits, overflowing its banks, seeking new spaces and new shapes to flow into.


Water remains the same in its essence, but it is forever changing as it adapts to new circumstances. When unruly, its energy may be dispersed in places where it just stagnates or evaporates, but when its power finds direction, nothing can stop her. 


Water that flows with power and persistence is not only a thing of beauty: it also creates beauty as it shapes everything in its path. You will find her in the misty river that flows through the magnificent canyons she carved out of solid rock. I also see her reflected in the eye of a tiny house sparrow that for all its softness and fragility, thrives through the harshest winters and colonizes whole continents. 


The power of softness manifests itself in many ways around us: when confronted with seemingly invincible hurdles, let it seep into your soul like water.


© Francesca Profili 2015


Print on canvas  


55.9 x 37 inches (142 x 93 cm) large edition

Price: $462 USD stretched (on 1.5" stretchers) or $316 USD rolled.


43 X 29 inches (109.2x 73.7 cm) regular edition
Price: $319 USD stretched on 1.5" stretchers or $237 USD rolled


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