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Traditiongal Chinese Painting

Chinese Painting

Traditional Chinese painting is the art of painting on a piece of Xuan paper or silk with a Chinese brush that was soaked with black ink or colored pigments. It is regarded as one of the "three quintessence of Chinese culture", the other two being Traditional Chinese Medicine and Beijing Opera.

By subject, traditional Chinese painting can be classified into three types:
  • figure painting
  • landscape painting
  • flowers-birds painting

Figure painting came into maturity as early as the Warring States Period (475 - 221) and reached its peak during Tang Dynasty (618 - 907). Famous figure painting artists include Gu Kaizhi and Wu Daozi.

Landscape painting, as the name indicates, delineates the outside scenery. It first appeared in Qin Dynasty (221 BC - 206 BC) and became an independent genre during Sui (581 - 618) and Tang Dynasties. By the time of Song Dynasty (960 - 1279), it had reached a very high level. Representative artists of landscape painting include Li Sixun, Fan Kuan and Tang Yin.

Flowers-birds painting concentrates on the drawing of flowers, birds, animal, fishes, and insects, etc. in their natural state. Found in Northern and Southern dynasties (420 - 589) and became a nature art during Song Dynasty. Celebrated artists include Zhu Da, who was excellent in execution of flowers and birds, Zheng Xie, who was good at bamboo, and Qi Baishi, who was excellent in fish and shrimp.

By styles of brushwork, traditional Chinese painting can be categorized into:
  • gongbi - realistic painting characterized by fine brushwork and closeer attention to details.
  • xieyi - freehand brushwork aimed at catching the spirit of the object and expressing the author's impression or mood.

Unlike Western sketches which focus on truthful regeneration of subject, traditional Chinese painting pays more attention to verve and artistic conception. canonizing the idea that painting should contain more meaning than what it depicts. For instance, when Xu Beihong began to draw horses, he would already have shape feature in his mind, and then draw a painting of horses that were more beautiful and alive than the real life in the simple brushwork. To take "xieyi" painter Qi Baishi as another example, in one of his paintings there were two roosters scrabbling for an earthworm. However, he named the painting "Say Hello Afterwards", meaning that although the bubs were not so sensitive that both of them scrabble for the same food, they would have deep friendly feelings and say "Hello" to each other afterwards. The whole personification of little rooster reflected Qi's comprehension of the whole life. In general, the style of traditional Chinese paintings is gradiose, containing reggedness as well as detail and magnificence. in addition, its contents are rich with colorful forms.

In a finished works of traditional Chinese painting, inscriptions, poems, and stamps often come side by side. Therefore, traditional Chinese painting is an art form combining poetry, calligraphy, painting and seal carving. Its artistic achievement and national feature have won recognition of the people all over the world. Thus, traditional Chinese painting brings decorous sentiment and artistic enjoyment for people.

Reference data

  1. Gu Kaizhi (c. 345 - 409) was a famous painter of Eastern Jin Dynasty.
  2. Wu Daozi (c. early 8th century) was a famous painter of Tang Dynasty. The belts of the clothes feel like waving by his painting.
  3. Li Sixun (651 - 716) was a famous painter of Tang Dynasty.
  4. Fan Kuan (? - ?) was a famous painter of Song Dynasty.
  5. Tang Yin or Tang Bohu (1470 - 1523) was a famous painter of Ming Dynasty.
  6. Zhu Da, or Bada Shanren (1626 - 1705) was a famous painter of early Qing Dynasty.
  7. Zheng xie or Zheng Banqiao (1693 - 1765) was a famous painter of Qing Dynasty.
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