Chinese art - Knowing a World much older Than Ours

Publicado 25 Abril, 2014 por C. Aguiar   


The art that were and have been produced during the centuries on the occidental hemisphere is largest studied and widespread on the culture around all globe. However, there are a culture much more ancient e certainly as or deeper that the occidental: Chinese culture. The civilization that remains since 3000 years ago have a so wide culture, covering philosophical, literary, scientific and artistic aspects, that we can say, without doubt that brings in the whole a cultural heritage at the same level of knowledge that western civilization, in many countries, took several centuries to build. The Templo de Atena website has a pleasure to present a series of articles during months of April and May showing a little bit of this interesting universe, beginning with works of art of China. Give us your comment, and join us in this great travel.

To understand the development of art on the Chinese history, you have to keep in your mind that many distinctions happened during the many imperial dynasties that ruled the country in the old times. Is worth also posit that here we will focus on aspects of painting, not stepping into other arts forms such as pottery or architecture (but we can address these issues in later articles, if the reader desires).

We can trace our journey the following route: seek to understand the methods and insights of artists of ancient China, the evolution of painting in ancient China, and techniques used by the artists of the ancient empire. Finally, we close our analysis of the current talking painting. So that you understand the concepts that Chinese painters considered to conceive an image, we can draw a parallel with our well-known Western painting:

In painting developed and enshrined in the West, the main focus of human-nature relationship, a relationship of landlord: man dominates, modifies, builds on nature. The highlight is the figure of the man. This feature owes much to Renaissance culture, where man is placed as a center after centuries of religious cults;

But in the east, the man and the beings become members of this all that is nature. The composition of the image is in harmony and integration of man and his environment.

Chinese Picture ( P’u Hsin-yu – dinastia Ch’ing)
Chinese Picture ( P’u Hsin-yu – dinastia Ch’ing)
Impression (Claude Monet - 1872)
Impression (Claude Monet - 1872)

Moreover, how the old Chinese painter placed his image on abstractions of nature? The paper, Chinese creation that would come to change the history of mankind, had central importance at this point. The http://artechina.blogspot.com.br/ site, access to 4/20/14 helps us understand the process of realizing the visions of the artist of the day:

[Paper] was used in different formats: horizontal scroll, vertical scroll, fan-shaped or sheet-shaped record of the ink from the black pigment being composed of wood or vegetable mass of soot in molded bar shape. When we wanted to use it, rubbed over stone urn fountain with a little water until you can dilute the ink quantity and the desired degree of concentration. Their application on paper had to be fast, instantaneous and safe, it was not possible any retouching or correction. Finally, the brush was formed by a small bamboo stem with a bristle of fur animal (goat, rabbit, mink, etc…), pointed and more substantial on top, and could have a variety of shapes and sizes

NYMPH 'RIO LUO' – GU KAIZHI, THE FATHER OF CHINESE PAINTING
NYMPH 'RIO LUO' – GU KAIZHI, THE FATHER OF CHINESE PAINTING

Another parallel we can draw between Western and Eastern painting is about the historical background of the painting. While in the West the art developed through the evolution of styles and representativeness ( whose timeline you can read in the introduction of our list of top 30 works of art of all time, the history of Chinese art can be well best described when analyzed in conjunction with the dynastic periods of China Imperial . Here we highlight three key passages:

The Chinese painting had its dawn in the paintings of silk fabrics and rudimentary frescoes. However, the highlights were woodcuts, done in relief. There is a certain air of mystery about these artistic pieces, because until today only 7 of them were found when historical records show a much greater range of this type of art in society at the time. Here worth a noteworthy one who is considered the greatest exponent of Chinese painting : Gu Kaizhi , great theorist of the arts , poet and calligrapher ( writing in ancient Mandarin was considered , and not without reason , an art ! ) . Below, some works of the most ancient Oriental painter: Housekeepers Board of the Ladies of the Palace, and Luoshenfu:

Luoshenfu
Luoshenfu
Housekeepers Board of the Ladies of the Palace
Housekeepers Board of the Ladies of the Palace

After a few centuries of continuous improvement, but with all topics based on the nature and nobility (depicting banquets, for example) during the period known as the Three Kingdoms Chinese painting found renewing with Buddhist art (an example is on the next image). Another important feature is the entrance to the imperial courts of philosophers and intellectuals painters who made important contributions in the form of expressing the images on the screens, as well as interpretation of tables produced. These changes broadly correspond to what in Europe centuries later we had with the Renaissance.

Buddhist Art
Buddhist Art
Buddhist Art
Buddhist Art

Finally it is worth mentioning the period of 1644-1911, the last of the great Chinese dynasties before the periods of revolution, which even after centuries the imperial art was forbidden to be practiced (during the Yuan Dynasty), Chinese art reached a level almost equal to European developments: poetry was portrayed in the painting, creating large capacities of abstractions in images. The artist's work Xu Beihong, for example, was introduced in Europe and many painters have influenced especially France.

Xu Beihong's Art
Xu Beihong's Art

And the Chinese modern painting, how it’s going? Contemporary artists, great emphasis is Zhang Xiaogang, who set up a series of painted 'portraits' of different people, but all with the same look. The idea of the artist in a phenomenal work of art acting as a critical element of society is to show that there is something wrong, something abnormal masses in his country. Basically: so many different people, different lives, all with the same expression. Should not, being single and own experiences with beings, have each expression? 'Something' became different than they were, molding them equal. Herein, it is important to mention that Zhang is an opponent of the current Chinese political system.

Chinese Art
Chinese Art
Chinese Art
Chinese Art
Chinese Art
Chinese Art
Chinese Art
Chinese Art

In this article, we had a real demonstration of how we have to learn from a civilization much older than the western world. Next time you search for something about art, when you want to learn something new about this fascinating subject, does not stick to the European Renaissance art. Look for Chinese art. You will not regret it.



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