1 Why Are There Only Animals And No Human Figgures Far East Painting – Chinese Painting – An Ancient Phenomenon

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Far East Painting – Chinese Painting – An Ancient Phenomenon

Chinese Painting – History & Concept

The roots of Chinese painting date back to the Neolithic period, some 6,000 years ago, making it one of the oldest arts in the world. Despite the assumption that this style of painting in the Far East carries the influence of many other cultures, there are still many elements, constant and unique to it. Chinese paintings strongly reflected the changes driven by time at social levels. Initially, the style of painting was more decorative, consisting of designs and patterns, than images as such. Related to other primitive craft forms, such as carved jade, pottery, bronze vessels, and lacquerware, Stone Age Chinese pottery painting styles included spirals, zigzags, dots, and animal patterns. Painting took a representational form from the Warring States period (403-221 BC). While, during the Han dynasties (202 BC) to the Tang dynasties (618-906), human figures dominated the painting scenes, the ‘Great Age of Chinese Landscape’ spanned the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms (907-960) to (960 -1127).

The details

There are two forms of Chinese painting:

o Gong-bi Also known as meticulous or court style

o Xie-yi – also known as freestyle, Shui-Mo, watercolor or brush painting, is the most popular because:

– Images or items are drawn with few columns

– These paintings not only take the correct form of the object, but also manage to capture its spirit.

Derived from calligraphy, Chinese painting is traditionally a linear art. The traditional style of painting is called Guó Huà, which means national or native painting. It is usually the subject of landscapes, figures, birds and flowers. The painting is mostly done on silk or paper, which further adds to the beauty of this art style. This type of work can be seen on walls, screens and Chinese fans.

In Chinese painting, landscape artworks especially include a large and prized collection, portraying nature, especially mountains, bamboo, plum blossoms, and water. The earlier Ink and Wash Landscape painting, which is done only with ink and not with oils, required considerable mastery of the brush. Those created through fine detail and decorative styles, however, used bright colors such as green, blue and red. Whether it is the majestic pine and cypress, the vivid plum blossom or the river, Chinese landscape paintings are elite in their structural combination. Other popular subjects for these paintings are fish, insects and frogs. Through landscape painting, artists easily express the poetic essence of nature.

Some of the elements in Chinese painting include the use of colophons, seals and various materials. The brushes used in these paintings have a very fine tip for drawing in different styles. Brush techniques include line drawing, texture, shading (cunfa) and point methods (dinfa). The different types of Chinese brushes are:

o Hsieh Chao Pi – A Crab Claw Brush, available in large and small sizes

o Hua Jan Pi – A brush, especially recommended for painting flowers

o Lan Yu Chu Pi – A brush for painting bamboo and orchids

Chinese painters have a particular style of holding their brush, which results in rhythmic strokes, thus enhancing the visual beauty of the artwork. Interestingly enough, the bristles of the brushes vary, according to the individual painting style of the artists.

The artists

Gu Kaizi (344-406), Xie He (5th century), Wu Daozi (680-740), Jing Hao (910-40), Dong Yuan (934-62), Juran (10th century), Fan Kuan ( 990- 1020), Yi Yuanji (1000-64), Guo Xi (1020-90), Zhang Zeduan (1085-1145), Ma Yuan (1160-1225), Xia Gui (1195-1224), Qi Baishi (1864- 1957), and Wang Yan (b. 1975).

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