Chinese classical painting (part 2)
Household painting originated in China long before the advent of other genres. She illustrated legends and short stories, was eloquent, narrative. Where human emotions and poetic moods were touched, the image invariably interwoven with the landscape. The worldview of medieval China can be called landscape – so the being of people was realized in connection with nature.
Since ancient times, it has been closely monitored. Unlike the countries of Europe, where man was the measure of all things, here it became a natural principle. Therefore, the landscape has won a leading position in art. The pantheistic worldview, as it were, directed all kinds and genres into a single channel. Deep kinship was connected, for example, by painting and architecture of medieval China. Like a landscape painter, architects perceived palaces and temples as an integral part of the natural ensemble. They built them in the most picturesque places of the country, and paved the roads to them in such a way that a variety of views opened before the traveler. The need to contemplate the beauty was associated with the construction of landscaped gardens, pavilions and pavilions, as if lost in the mountains. Ancient architects, as well as masters of landscape, possessed the unique skill of using natural spaces as a picturesque backdrop in ensembles of gardens and parks.
The landscape of medieval China was inextricably linked with poetry. It is no accident that one of the 9th-century art theorists Zhang Yan-Yuan emphasized their cohesion with the Words: “When they could not express a thought through painting, they wrote hieroglyphs, when they could not express a thought through writing, they painted.” Indeed, in the paintings, Chinese painters often wrote poetry in beautiful calligraphic handwriting. Many of the artists were poets at the same time – so the art of word and image was interconnected.
The combination of painting and calligraphic inscription arose in the first centuries of our era. Hieroglyphs enriched the meaning of the works, giving food to imagination, to the imagination of the viewer. Highly regarded as a special kind of art, the inscriptions had independent artistic significance. Their whole scrolls were created, executed in a variety of manners and styles. The call to calligraphy was not accidental. The character in China is much more than a thought expressed by writing. His winding and elastic line – now sharp and scratchy, now brittle, then wide and free – reflected the mood of the master, his temperament, artistry of nature. A hieroglyph is a kind of speaking ornament.
Chinese artists knew many ways to tell about the life of nature. Since the VIII century AD, one of them, Van Wei, along with water mineral paints began to use black mascara. She gave a particularly picturesque smoothness of tonal transitions. Then two main manners became established. One thorough, scrupulous – “gun-bi” (“diligent brush”), the other – more free, relaxed – “se-i” (“expression of an idea”). Using them, masters sometimes achieved the most unexpected effects. Often, only one detail – for example, a pine branch, a crested bird – in the works of My Qi or Liang Kai (XIII century) gave them a harsh, restrained power, drama.
Combined lines and spots are one of the secrets of the diversity and expressiveness of Chinese painting. The finest gradations of tone in conjunction with a sharp, strong touch created the impression of airiness, melting in the fog of the distance. The matte white surface of the paper, which did not reflect light and easily absorbed mascara, was skillfully interpreted as a spatial medium. The granular texture of the silk fabric played the same role. Sketchiness and incompleteness, elevated to a creative principle, made the viewer think up the work, feel involved in the creative process.