Chinese classical painting (part 3)
The landscape born of the artist’s imagination was always filled with the breath of life. The long scroll “Autumn in the Valley of the Yellow River”, performed in the XI century by Guo Xi, shows endless chains of mountains, old pines, huts sunk in the waves of soft fog. Peace reigns in nature. The landscape is monochrome, painted with light washings of mascara in combination with clear graphic lines. And the famous artist Ma Yuan, who lived in the XII – XIII centuries, depicting a fragile boat of a fisherman, swinging among the expanses of a winter lake, gives no coast, or even a piece of land. It creates a feeling of boundless space full of life. The excitement around the boat, marked by several strong strokes of the brush, conveys a moving water element.
The landscape of the Middle Ages, called “Shan-Shui” (“mountains of water”), is symbolic in nature. It embodied observations of the most characteristic features of the national landscape. This was facilitated by the composition, the laws of perspective worked out over the centuries. All objects are as if seen by the artist from above. The long-range plan, usually raised very high in Chinese paintings, seems infinitely distant from the front. If in painting “shan-shui” nature is majestic and immense, in another genre, called “flower-birds”, it, on the contrary, is as close as possible to a person. Images were applied not only to scrolls, but also to fans and screens, decorated with postal paper, album sheets. These miniature scenes reflected the life of plants, birds, insects. Masters who worked in this manner studied all living things, like natural scientists. They knew and perfectly conveyed the structure of each leaf, the shape of the plumage of birds, the texture of the velvety surface of a ripe fruit.
The creative experience of many generations of Chinese painters was reflected in many treatises summarizing the rules for working on a painting. They affirmed the high ideals of art. For example, explanations of the laws of perspective sounded like poems glorifying the beauty of the world. Here is an excerpt from the treatise of painter Wang Wei: “Distant figures are all without mouths, distant trees – without branches. The distant peaks are without stones: they, like eyebrows, are thin, obscure. Distant currents without a wave: they are equal in height with clouds. Such a revelation! ”
Chinese classical painting has become a significant contribution to the artistic culture of mankind. Anyone who does not spare spiritual strength to penetrate its meaning will discover a rich and complex world.