Chinese painting and calligraphy
* Introduction: Chinese art
So, my topic is Chinese painting and calligraphy. Since the topic is extremely large, I have chosen to focus on the evolution of both disciplines from their origins to the 13th century (the dates for this semester). But in this chronological presentation, I would like to emphasize also on the main principles, techniques, and methods. My purpose here is to show you how Chinese painting and calligraphy, despite their evolution through the time are closely linked and are central for Chinese art. Political evolution: the main Dynasties
Just to remind you, there is a succession of dynasties: that’s the simplification here (The PP is on Webct if you are interested).
Characteristics themes and symbols in chinese art
All traditional Chinese art is symbolic and reflects some aspect of a totality of which the painter is intuitively aware. And the “artist” (the word must be understood carefully especially for Chinese art because differentiation between professional painters and amateurs that are the elite) expresses the inner character of things rather than just his appearance. I made a list of symbols with various possible meanings.
Calligraphy in Chinese art and society
The Chinese name for calligraphy is Shufa that means “method of writing”.
Actually, it’s different from writing as communication because it supposes a technique and a specific approach.
It expresses something more profound –that is the inner state of the calligrapher. It is considered as a spiritual discipline practiced by educated elite, called Literati. It developed mainly after the Han dynasty.
Calligraphy has been considered supreme among the visual arts in China. The discipline sets the standard by which Chinese painting is judged so the two arts are closely related.
The early Chinese written words were simplified pictorial images, indicating meaning through imagination. These images were flexible in composition that allows changing the meaning by slight variations. The tools for Chinese calligraphy are few—an ink stick, an ink stone, a brush, and paper or silk. The calligrapher then composes structures with well-balanced spaces between the strokes. Normally, number and form of strokes, their order and brush movements are predetermined. The calligrapher does not invent form. Rather he interprets them, with his particular style that reflects his individuality. The fundamental inspiration of Chinese calligraphy is nature. Evolution
The earliest known Chinese characters were engraved on the bones of large animals. It was said that Cangjie, the legendary inventor of Chinese writing, got his ideas from observing animals’ footprints as well as other natural phenomena. He then started to work out simple images from what he conceived as representing different objects Each image is composed of a minimum number of lines and yet it is easily recognizable. The arrangement of the images changes the meaning.
Form of writing found on bronze vessels also called metal script. It’s in this period that calligraphy as a discipline by itself emerges. Xiaozhuan style
In the 3rd century bce, at the same time of the first unity of China, the bronze script was unified. Lines of even thickness and many curves and circles characterize small-seal script. Each word tends to fill up an imaginary square. There are series of these equals squares arranged in columns and rows, each of them balanced and well spaced. BUT: could not be written speedily so passage to the fourth stage Lishu
Here, squares and short straight lines, vertical and horizontal, predominate. The words tend to be rectangular. Zhenshu (kaishu) regular script
Since this curtailed the freedom of hand, a fifth stage developed. The Chinese write in regular script today.
Each stroke, each square or angle, and even...