The Philosophy Behind Chinese Landscape Painting
Lu San Tu
Chinese ink on rice paper
119.3 x 57.1cm
Signed in 1980
For Chinese landscape painting, it is not necessary for you to paint the landscape you see. You paint only the landscape you envision in your mind but the painting must capture the spirit of nature. (This means that the artist has to experience and be moved by nature that he is able to integrate his emotions with his experience, in his mind, and capture that spirit in his painting.
In reviewing a landscape painting, it is most important to see the vitality of the brushwork and the varying intensity and texture of the ink in the landscape. Apart from having the painting 'resemble', or look 'real', or 'full', it should provide room for the viewer to indulge in wonderment and imagination. It must give a sense of uncertainty as to where the scene begins and where it will lead. This allows for ‘endless appreciations’. In short, it is a process of 'writing' a landscape. i.e. using calligraphic strokes to create the landscape. The expressive quality of the brushwork and the intensity and texture of the ink can be seen clearly and appreciated. Only after that, should we consider the 'scenery' of the landscape.
For those who enjoy landscape paintings through this method, it is often that a whole day, a month or even a year can be spent without feeling tired, or weary when looking at a good piece of work. The viewer is not really looking at the beauty of the scenery instead he is appreciating 'every stroke', 'every dot' and 'every shade'. Should there be any defect in the calligraphy it is a sign that the artist was not an expert. If there is a lack of harmony in the intensity and texture of the ink it will not be a 'top grade' painting.
Huang Yao, Moyuan Suibi, 1982
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