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A Comparison of the Relation between Mural Paintings by Painters and the "Six Principles of Painting"
Dr. Wang Zan
(Professor, Vice President of China Academy of Art)
Based on the context of Chinese literati painting, this paper will distinguish between “literati painting” and “artist painting”. The purpose is to distinguish between “literati painting” and “painters”, and therefore to understand the different value orientations expressed in the paintings by these two different groups.
To illustrate the clear distinction between “literati painting” and “painter painting”, and the different techniques and styles that have been dissemminated within these artistic groups, this article will investigate the historical origins of each art, beginning with the pre-Song period when the concept of “literati painting” had not yet taken shape. In this way the reader will gain a clear understanding of the historical evolution of painting in China, as well as the theoretical basis behind the techniques of painting. Since ancient times down to the present day China has exhibited many forms of painting. Mural painting is the richest Chinese artistic language, and it is also one of the most important areas in which the techniques and styles of different artistic groups flourished. The historical development of mural painting has never been broken; the development of mural painting has had a much longer history than ink painting. Because of its artistic value, research into mural painting deserves our attention.
The technological requirements of mural wall painting with rock color materials, and rice paper materials for “literati painting” after the Song dynasty required the formation of two important features in the history of Chinese painting. Clearly, the distinction between ink painting and murals does not just depend on material differences; in essence, the distinction between “literati painting” and "non-literati painting" lies in cultural and historical value. The notion of “artist painting” itself should logically comprise the group of “literati painting”. However, in order to discuss clearly and cohesively under the conceptual structure of “literati” and “non-literati” painting, this paper proposes a new concept of “artist painting (paintings by painters)” for distinction. In order to discuss clearly and understand the range of “literati painting” and “non-literati painting”, it is important to make a distinction about the concept of “artist painting”.
Following China's “new culture” campaign of the early twentieth century, Western culture had a serious impact on Chinese traditional culture. The Chinese “literati painting” tradition experienced nearly a thousand years of development and prosperity, and is now facing the impact of a global era of pluralistic painting and exchanges. Chinese traditional culture is facing a great challenge and creative transformation. The cultural connotation and consciousness around “literati painting” is uniquely Chinese. However, “literati painting” does not represent all of the development of Chinese painting, it represents a part of the elite scholar class in the Chinese art world. The history of Chinese painting is not just a history begun in the Tang dynasty, which flourished during the Song, Yuan, Ming, Qing, and afterwards. Similarly, the history of Chinese painting styles includes not just ink painting but rock color painting and other painting styles as well. Rock color, ink, and other painting material resources are shared by artist groups. Rock color and ink, as well as “artist painting” and “literati painting” artist groups together create a whole process of painting and historical development in Chinese civilization. Although evaluation standards vary, official painting and folk painting together have created the richness of Chinese civilization for thousands of years. To this day, there is debate over which represents the core values of Chinese culture: “artist painting” or “literati painting”? We ask ourselves the following question: where will the future development of Chinese painting go from here? These fundamental issues of art are worthy of our reflection and evaluation.
This paper is based on research of traditional fresco, with a focus on painting theory and value orientation, focusing on “artist painting”. The author explores the past, present and future to find a theoretical basis. The discussion follows two of Xie He’s “Six Principles of Painting”—“Suitability to type: color application according to the natural objects in heaven and earth, and the eternal transformation of the four seasons” and “transmission by coping”; this paper explores their close relation with mural painting.