Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Shih T'ao Sunday Was Two Days Ago

I saw the Yellow Mountain exhibition at the Sackler on Sunday and had two or more thoughts.

1. That Chinese landscape paintings seem very map like. The point of view and atmospheric perspective is directly responsible for this sensation. I felt like I could probably find my way around Huangshan using one of these seventeen foot scrolls.

2. I am always so in awe of how advanced visual culture was/is in China. I mean come on! Their alphabet is pictures! Oh, right, and they were printing using movable type in , like, the 900's.

or more...

The Individualist painter Shih T'ao (Shitao) is represented by a magical work that does that one thing that Individualist painters do - in addition to their revolutionary mark making - where they reverse their composition half way down. The trick, I think, is that the top and bottom halves are inversions of one another. Like an S.

(for the Shitao image of which I speak, go here then click on "view a selection of images..." then click on image number 4)

Another thing that I have always appreciated about Chinese landscape painting is the quietude. The images are very still and very cared for, but if your not paying attention you will completely miss their secrets. I suppose it shouldn't be surprising that these works were painted by poets and monks. I have a thing for art that whispers.

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