Show at the Na­tional Mu­seum of China show­cases works from the Beijing mu­seum, the Na­tional Mu­seum of Korea and the Tokyo Na­tional Mu­seum. re­ports.

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - LIFE - PHO­TOS BY JIANG DONG / CHINA DAILY

For many Beijing com­muters, “Jin­tai” means a busy sub­way sta­tion in the cap­i­tal’s east­ern part at which they get off or trans­fer on their way to work. It is also the name of a crowded road flanked by high-rise com­mer­cial and res­i­den­tial build­ings.

But six cen­turies ago, the area was dif­fer­ent. It was filled with trees. The singing of birds echoed through moun­tains. And hilly ter­races bathed in sun­light.

This land­scape was called “Jin­tai Xizhao” which lit­er­ally means a ter­race bathed in the glow of the set­ting sun. And it was recorded by Ming Dy­nasty (1368-1644) painter Wang Fu as part of his 20-me­ter-long ink paint­ing ti­tled A Scroll of Beijing’s Eight Mag­nif­i­cent Scenes.

Wang served in the Ming im­pe­rial court and painted nat­u­ral mo­tifs, such as bam­boo and stones. He is rec­og­nized as a key fig­ure in literati shan­shui (moun­tain-and-wa­ter) paint­ing.

Seen as the high point of Wang’s artis­tic out­put, the land­scape scroll was cat­a­loged in Shiqu Baoji, a pres­ti­gious in­ven­tory of the Qing Dy­nasty (1644-1911)’s im­pe­rial col­lec­tion. It is now in the Na­tional Mu­seum of China in Beijing.

Vis­i­tors can view the scroll at an on­go­ing ex­hi­bi­tion that cel­e­brates the artis­tic di­ver­sity of China, the Korean king­dom and Ja­pan from the 15th to the 19th cen­turies.

The Ori­en­tal Art of Paint­ing at the Na­tional Mu­seum of China show­cases 52 literati paint­ings, genre paint­ings and Bud­dhism-themed paint­ings among oth­ers from the Beijing mu­seum, the Na­tional Mu­seum of Korea in Seoul and the Tokyo Na­tional Mu­seum in Ja­pan.

The jux­ta­po­si­tion of the art shows the cultural tra­di­tions shared by the three coun­tries, according to Yi Younghoon, di­rec­tor-gen­eral of the Na­tional Mu­seum of Korea.

“Also, the works re­veal dif­fer­ences that need to be un­der­stood and re­spected, based on which peo­ple can fur­ther de­velop friend­ships,” he says.

While the prac­tice of paint­ing flour­ished in the three coun­tries dur­ing the five cen­turies in ques­tion, it took on dif­fer­ent fea­tures.

Zhu Wanzhang, an art historian and re­searcher at the Na­tional Mu­seum of China, says China’s literati paint­ing ( wen­ren­hua) reached new heights in the Ming and Qing dy­nas­ties, car­ry­ing GuardianDeitiesofBud­dhism, Paint­ingAl­bu­mofFarm­ingScenes, TheOri­en­talArtofPaint­ing for­ward a rich le­gacy cre­ated in the Song Dy­nasty (960-1279).

The style, which got its name be­cause it was widely prac­ticed by highly ed­u­cated peo­ple — in­tel­lec­tu­als and scholar-bu­reau­crats — was de­vised by Wang Wei, a prom­i­nent poet and artist of the eighth cen­tury, and fur­ther de­vel­oped by Su Dongpo, the famed scholar of North­ern Song Dy­nasty (960-1127).

The style ex­hibits a lofty, highly in­di­vid­ual and ex­pres­sive feel. And Zhu says its pro­gres­sion over cen­turies in China re­flects the su­pe­rior so­cial stand­ing of the literati.

Also on show at the ex­hi­bi­tion are the works of Tang Yin and Wen Zheng­ming, two of the most cel­e­brated Ming painters, whose pieces rep­re­sent the high­est lev­els of literati paint­ing.

The style spread to Ja­pan af­ter artists from there were ex­posed to Jieziyuan Huapu, a 17 th-cen­tury man­ual of Chi­nese paint­ing.

Ikeno Taiga (1723-1776) stood out for works that blended the phi­los­o­phy of literati paint­ing with Ja­panese artis­tic tra­di­tions and Western paint­ing tech­niques. A 3.6-me­ter-long screen paint­ing at the ex­hi­bi­tion epit­o­mizes his dis­tinc­tive style, fea­tur­ing smooth lines, a translu­cent pal­ette and dy­namic com­po­si­tion.

The paint­ing was in­spired by North­ern Song poet Lin Bu’s prose in which the scholar liv­ing in seclu­sion de­scribes plum trees as play­ing a wife’s role and cranes as his sons.

How­ever, Zhu says literati paint­ing did not blos­som in Ja­pan, be­cause the coun­try was then ruled by the sa­mu­rai, or a mil­i­tary elite.

He says the pe­riod, how­ever, wit­nessed the emer­gence of a more pop­u­lar form of art, ukiyoe (pic­tures of the float­ing world), sev­eral of which are also on show. They largely fo­cus on folk cus­toms, the lives of com­mon peo­ple and other worldly sub­jects in a re­fined, dec­o­ra­tive man­ner. The works were es­pe­cially well re­ceived by mer­chants and ur­ban dwellers in the Edo pe­riod.

In Korea, literati paint­ings were not pro­duced by schol­ars but by pro­fes­sional painters, who of­ten painted mo­tifs of im­pe­rial life and show­cased the feel­ings of the rul­ing class.

A rep­re­sen­ta­tive ex­am­ple is a paint­ing by 16th-cen­tury painter Yi Am, who is fa­mous for his skill of vividly de­tail­ing the fur of an­i­mals.

In the work on show, Yi por­trays a dog tak­ing care of its pup­pies. Chen Qingqing, a cu­ra­tor from the Na­tional Mu­seum of China, says the work shows the ap­peal typ­i­cal of Korean literati paint­ing.

Con­tact the writer at linqi@ chi­

If you go

at the Na­tional Mu­seum of China. a Korean paint­ing pro­duced in 1855. 9 am-5 pm, closed on Monday, through Dec 18. East of Tian’an­men Square. 010-6511-6188.

Top: Above right:

Above left: Vis­i­tors at the on­go­ing ex­hi­bi­tion a Chi­nese paint­ing from the Qing Dy­nasty.

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