Chinese painting is the traditional pictorial art exerted in China for more than thousand years. Its roots take source in an original way of thinking much older which stresses the unity of the man and cosmos and the uninterrupted dynamism of this universe. More than representation of a form, Chinese painting seeks to express the heart, the internal movement of the beings.
Generally, Chinese painting is made up of one or more poems, calligraphy, a painted image and the seal of the artist. Various methods must be distinguished:
The purpose of Chinese painting is to carry out in the greatest concision an artistic charm carrying a meaning of the infinite. Indeed, in the Chinese traditional thought, the universe consists of breaths (qi) of various densities and always moving, source of the life. To recreate these breaths in an image gives it life and established a direct link between the universe, painting and the human. Thus the act to paint or contemplate a painting makes it possible to find the unity with cosmos. Consequently, it is more than a simple aesthetic work: it’s an art of living. “Rhyme of the breaths and movement of life” is, to my mind, an excellent expression to catch the meaning of Chinese painting.
The formats used in Chinese painting are very varied. Most known are “the large roller”, “the horizontal format”, “the range”, etc.
The subjects can be peoples, landscapes, flowers and birds, mammals, insects and fish, architecture, etc. The sources of inspiration are thus directly in nature, but also in paintings of the former Masters.
The landscapes, the characters and the flowers and birds are the three preferred topics of the Chinese painters. It implies a thorough study of the plants and flowers according to the four seasons and of the aspect of the birds, the insects, fish and the mammals.
The essential points of the composition of Chinese paintings are: