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Renaissance of Chinese Landscape Painting


Chinese Landscape Ink Painting

Charles Moffat (link here) states "Many critics consider landscape to be the highest form of Chinese painting." I quite agree. I learned this type of painting as a teenager but failed to achieve becoming a good painter of Chinese landscape.

"In these landscapes, monochromatic and sparse (a style that is collectively called shuimohua - 水墨畫), the purpose was not to reproduce exactly the appearance of nature (realism) but rather to grasp an emotion or atmosphere so as to catch the "rhythm" of nature." Yes,I think the rhythm of nature needs to be captured by mind and eyes. How could my urban teenager's mind grasp the emotion of nature? I had never ever seen mountain landscape, only a streetscape from the school bus window.

An Oil-Paint Studio in Shanghai

That was three decades ago, more recently I randomly popped into a studio at Shanghai's M50 last October. A landscape oil-painting of greenery waterfront in a forest, caught my eyes and after a while, caught my mind as well.

I looked quietly this skillful painter capturing the stunning light and shadow of nature in front of me. I could tell he could be on the top of performer in Chinese landscape oil-painting field.

Soon he also felt an admirer standing behind him. I didn't interrupt him by asking just compliment his colours of grass, in which I could see the impression of light reflected.

I waited until his break time, maybe he would like to have a rest for chatting. Politely I asked "May I look around?" and I saw his profile, Pei lian-zhi 裴連志, that listed his awards and achievements, as well as a series of monochromatic landscape paintings on the far end wall. I was surprised that this oil painting studio also displayed Chinese ink painting, Pei said he painted all by oil-paint, too.

It brought my teenage memories back. Older art concepts formed by different techniques showed well.

A Photograph Exhibition in New York

Last week, I was in New York with Richard, my life partner and dearest mate, and, as we walked in downtown Manhattan we passed a monochromatic landscape photograph of an exhibition poster. Instantly, I recognized Mt. Huang the most magnificent area of mountain, pine tree and cloud in China. As well as some Chinese landscape paintings and poems were inspired by this mountain from very old China, probably since 17th century.

My first instinct was that, this exhibition is to show how photographers have taken to a kind of landscape ink painting. Mt. Huang is an UNESCO World Heritage Site, too. Well worth visiting.

This random visit made our New York trip. The photographer, Wang Wu-sheng, cought the breathtaking images of Mt. Huang and echoed in his black and white images classical Chinese ink painting.

Richard bought a book of Art of the Mountain: 'Through the Chinese photographer's lens'. It mentioned Wang's inspiration of Mt. Huang, and that he started to photograph it in1974 as the first photographer to create its art work alike Chinese landscape ink painting.

Renaissance of Chinese Landscape Ink Painting

When I learned landscape ink painting, it was ink and brush. Now, the form of landscape ink painting is likely adapted by oil-painting and a photography. When we had a breakfast, we chatted about the word 'renaissance'. The rebirth of the spectacular scenery of Chinese mountains and the beauty inspiration of ink painting.

Once of lifetime to visit: Mt. Huang

Perhaps for hobby, perhaps for admiring of its wonderful mountain ranges, Mt. Huang is on our adventure list.

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