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Quiet Tides Enable Day’s Sleep, Woken to Realize Rising Waves at Night

—On Art of Song Dynasty


Hi Art April, 2013

Chinese art has gone through thousands of years. Song Dynasty can be seen as its midpoint. The art in that period is worth our particular attention since its literature including drama and music is all original. Unlike nowadays, everything is either learned or borrowed from others. As a result, we can’t even dare to show who we really are, only blindly following like a stupid dog.

Song Dynasty is one of the two most long-lasting historical periods in China as well as an affluent one. Its GDP accounted for 80 percent of the world. People lived a preposterous life without frequent domestic turmoil. Though Liao and Jin in the north sometimes launch attacks, its defense budget had been none for many years. Following Han and Tang Dynasties, the people in the Song Dynasty are more calm and reserved. The art descended from the former two dynasties grew more elegant and graceful. The western media selected 100 people who had made significant contributions to human development over the past thousand years in the late 1990s. It turned out that Fan Kuan, a well known landscape painter of the Song Dynasty, was the only Chinese artist made to the list.
We all know landscape and figure painting are two major components of Chinese painting, representing the highest level of the Chinese ink painting. Landscape painting in Song Dynasty came to its peak, boasting over 180 famous painters such as Ma Yuan, Xia Gui, Guo Xi and Li Cheng. Fan Kuan, boasting masterpieces such as Traveling amid Mountains and Streams, Forests in Snow, is unconstrained with outstanding techniques—consperse panoramic perspective, Cun techniques with bean and strip forms. “Forests on the mountain top, being dry; huge stones around rivers, being tough.” Mi Fu once said so when analyzing his landscape painting features. Guo Xi proposes heights, depth and flatness in technique. His masterpiece is Early Spring and he wrote the book Lin Quan Gao Zhi(written by Guo Xi, it is an important work of aesthetic ideology in Chinese painting). Ma Yuan, also known as “Ma One Corner” since he always portrays one corner of a landscape. His masterpiece is Fishing Alone along a Cold River. Xia Gui, also referred to as “Xia a Half” for he is good at arranging space. He created a Cun method (dying while doing the Cun technique, known as Tuonidaishui) and his masterpiece is Mountain with Streams.

Figurer painting in Song Dynasty was also well developed. It boasts masters as Li Gonglin, Liang Kai, Su Hanchen, Li Song, Li Tang and Zhang Zeduan. Liang Kai, also known as a crazy man, is bold and unconstrained. He loves drinking and practicing meditation. Splash Ink Immortal is his master work. Mr. Liang created “cut-pen” and “splash-ink” with few strokes and simple structures, making him a master. Li Gonglin, also surnamed Bo Shi, boasts his masterpiece Five Horses. He is a painter pays special attention to people’s innermost being. In technique, he draws the outline with single line and don’t color, creatively developed traditional paintings’ lines and many painters today still follow his practice.

In literature, following The Songs of Chu, poetry in the Han Dynasty and the Tang Dynasty, iambic verses became mature in the Song Dynasty. For example, Ouyang Xiu, Liu Yong, Su Shi, Qin Guan, Xin Qiji and Li Qingzhao are all famous lyric writers. Liu Yong was so well known that where there is a well, there is his verses, such as the familiar sentence --“since time immemorial, lovers have grieved at parting”, much more popular than today’s pop songs. For Su Shi, he covered a broader subject which basically involved everything. “Bold and unconstrained, not to cater to rhythm, you feel the wind and storm approaching after singing his lyrics.” Lu You once pointed out in Jottings from Laoxue An. Prose also thrived during this period. “Eight Prose Masters of the Tang and Song Dynasties” refer to Ouyang Xiu, Wang Anshi, Su Shi, Zeng Gong, Su Xun, Su Zhe of the Song Dynasty and Han Yu and Liu Zongyuan of the Tang Dynasty. The Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties later all praise highly of those eight masters but they mainly followed the example of the Song Dynasty. Zaju (poetic drama set to music) and Shuochang (a genre of populalr entertainment consisting mainly of talking and singing) also developed with master pieces like The Strung Ancient Chinese Music of the Romance of West Chamber and Biography of Yingying. What’s more, there were 200 volumes of musical theory works Book on Music.

The Chinese ceramic techniques with simple and low-profile styles came to peak in this period. There were there major colors: green, white and black and several well known types: Ruyao (made in Henan), ting ware, kuan yao porcelain (made at the foot of Fenghuang Mountain in Lin’an, a court kiln, porcelain with crackled glaze, ware made in Jingde County and Jun kiln(made in Henan). The last one, Jun kiln was especially a sign of wealth. It’s said that even a piece of it worths a lot fortune. All major museums around the world are eager to have some porcelain of the Song Dynasty.

Europe came to the dawn of Renaissance at the end of the Song Dynasty. 200 years later, oil paintings came to life in Netherlands; 220 years later, America was discovered by Columbus; 700 years later, Abstract Art, Pop Art, Installation and Performance Art were born successively.

Zhu Wei

Sunday, March 17, 2013





昼眠知浪静 夜语觉潮生 ——聊聊宋代的艺术




宋代是中国历史上时间最长两个朝代之一,也是最富裕的几个历史时期之一,当年的国民生产总值(GDP)占全世界的百分之八十。宋少有内乱民间富薮百姓安居乐业,虽有北方辽金骚扰,国防预算占GDP的比例多年为零。由汉唐两个盛世过来宋人显得不那么咋呼,多了份从容含蓄。由汉唐所积淀下来的文化艺术到了宋代变得低调,优雅,精致大气。上世纪九十年代末西方媒体评选一千年来全球一百位为人类进步作出重大贡献的人,范宽是唯一的中国艺术家。 范宽, 宋代著名山水画家。

大家都知道山水画和人物画是中国绘画两大主干,山水画和人物画代表着中国水墨画的最高水平。 宋代的山水画已达到了山水画的极盛期。宋代有名有姓能叫得上来画山水的就有一百八十多人,比如大家都知道的马远,夏圭,郭熙,李成等。范宽生性豪放不羁嗜酒落魄,代表作《溪山行旅图》,《雪景寒林图》,其技法过人,散点的全景透视,豆瓣及带状的皴法。米芾在分析范宽的山水画艺术特征时曾说:“山顶好做密林,自此趋枯老;水际做突兀大石,自此趋劲硬。”范宽的山水画后人恐怕很难企及。郭熙,代表作《早春图》。著作《林全高致》,在绘画方法上主张:高,深,平三远法。马远,代表作《寒江独钓图》他的山水画构图简约,常取山水一角固有“马一角”之称。夏圭,杭州人。代表作《溪山清远图》创拖泥带水皴,善取巧,因而有“夏半边”之称。


在文学方面,楚辞,汉赋,唐诗发展到宋,由唐兴起的词到宋代已发展到鼎盛,著名的词人有欧阳修,柳永,苏轼,秦观,辛弃疾,李清照等。“多情自古伤别离”的柳词更是家喻户晓,达到了凡有水井处,即有柳永词的程度。比现在给词谱了曲再唱出来的流行歌曲还火。苏轼的词题材广泛视野开阔,达到无意不可入,无事不可言的境地,陆游在《老学庵笔记》中指出苏词“但豪放不喜剪裁以就声律耳。试取东坡词歌之,曲终,觉天风海雨逼人。”宋代还是古代散文的重要发展期,出现了古文革新运动,欧阳修,王安石,苏轼,曾巩,苏洵,苏辙与唐代的韩愈,柳宗元被合称唐宋八大家,后来的元,明,清散文虽从整体上推崇唐宋八大家,但更多的是效法宋代。宋杂剧和说唱艺术已达到一定水准,代表作有《西厢记诸宫调》,《会真记》 。音乐理论著作《乐书》200卷。