Art


This is an excerpt from one of my assignments of  last semester, demonstrating

how Guo Xi use San-Yuan三遠“atmospheric perspective” to create distances and spaces.

And this method is  still influential to the methodology of contemporary Chinese landscape painting.

Early Spring (早春圖)

By Guo Xi

dated 1072

ink and light color,on silk

105.8 x 108.1cm

picture: http://www.npm.gov.tw/masterpiece/enlargement.jsp?pic=K2A000053

 

Introduction 

Produced in the Northern Song dynasty(960-1127), a period with well-developed brushwork and composition, Early Spring is a quintessence to present the landscape painting style of this“Great age of Chinese landscape” and Guo Xi’s principles of landscape painting.

Guo Xi (after1000-c.1090ce) was a staff served in a court institution of academy, so-called a court painter. Systematizing his own views on painting, he was not only the emperor- Shengzong’s(宋神宗)favorite painter but also considered as one of the greatest painters of China. His treatise “ Lofty Messages of Streams and Mountains” has made a significant contribution to Chinese traditional landscape, proposing the idea of San-Yuan三遠“atmospheric perspective1”which is a skill to create the illusion of space and distance. I would further analyze this and other significances of this master piece in the following sections.

The main object in Early Spring is mountains. Mountain has become a prominent feature and motif in Chinese landscape painting after the Tang dynasty(618–906) collapsed and people withdrew from the society to the mountains in order to escape from the upheaval, commune with the nature and seek enjoyments. Early Spring depicted the renewal of the nature after ,winter with details ,refinedly.


Creating Distances

Guo Xi innovated the technique of “atmospheric perspective” which was influential in later Chinese landscape painting. The three approaches are namely high distant(高遠), deep distance(深遠) and level distance(平遠). These techniques are all included in Early Spring, the most famous work of Guo Xi. The distances enhance the reality and visual effects which emphasize the height and width,creating a vivid and monumental composition.

2.High distant: to create the height of the peak and to view from the bottom of the mountain looking up toward to the top

Level distant:to view the mountain which is far away from the nearby mountain

Deep distant: to create layers and to view from the front into the back

1T.C.Lai, Brushwork in Chinese Landscape Painting (Hong Kong: Chung Hwa Book Company and Swindon Book Company ,1983) p.100

 2. “山有三遠:自山下而仰山顛,謂之高遠;自山前而窺山后,謂之深遠;自近山而望遠山,謂之平遠。” (Lofty Messages of Streams and Mountains ,Gui Xi)

From:Cultural Literacy in the Asian Context

Assignment Two   

Elvis Cheung , Hong Kong, 2011

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Zhongruan is a member of “ruan”(阮) family. Zhong means middle (size). There are Daruan (big ruan) ,Zhongruan, Xiaoruan (small ruan) and Gaoyin ruan ( high -pitch-ruan) in ruan family.

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Liuqin and Zhongruan are brother and sister because they have the same tuning of their strings ,namly G D G’ D’. And they are both played with a pick.

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Zhongruan’s sound is said to be like guitar’s but I think the sound of Zhongruan is more smooth and is deeper.

Zhongruan is more popular than Liuqin. It is a solo instrument and it plays an important role in the Chinese Orchestra as a bass.

Zhongruan is a traditional instrument but nowadays performers try to play different music with it, like tango.

Let’s watch some videos to know more about it.

Zhongruan concerto

Zhongruan duet

Chopsticks have been  the most essential eating utensil for the Chinese since the ancient time .

They are old and traditional but you can’t deny that they are very convenient and clever!

If  you have a meal in a Chinese restaurant, forget the fork and try to use chopsticks !

Steps to hold and use chopsticks 

1. Put a pair of chopsticks on your hand, between your thumb and index finger

2. Hold them with your thumb and index finger

3. Put your middle finger between the two chopsticks

4. Support the chopstick (the one in the right hand side) by

touching it with your ring finger and little finger.

5. Pay attention to the position  you hold the chopsticks.

It’s hard to use chopsticks if you  place them too low.

6. This is an exemplar

7. When you want to pick up the food ,move your index and middle finger .

A short demonstration here,let’s see how to pick up something by using chopsticks 😛

How to use chopsticks from mypezzo on Vimeo.

When you see these words :

Are you thinking how to write them?
To write a chinese character is not as difficult as you think, because there are 8 rules for stroke order.

Keep them in mind!

You can also write a Chinese character in a proper way!

Stroke order 

1.From top to bottom

2.From left to right

3.From middle to sides

4. From outside to inside

5.Inside before closing

6. Horizontal before other strokes

7.Main body before tying it all together

8.Main body before the dot

Let’s try some simple words:

from top to bottom

from top to bottom (exception: not horizontal first)

from left to right ,from outside to inside, inside before closing

More then 2 order rules should be applied to most of the Chinese characters,some Chinese characters may have more then 20 strokes, and you can imagine that how many rules they may concluded. However, these 8 rules cannot cover all of the Chinese characters because there are some exceptions. These special cases are more complicated and I won’t mention them here. The 8 rules above are useful and should be enough for beginners to write most of the words.

In Hong Kong , even China, many students write Chinese character with a wrong order.Writing with a wrong order is not about  grammatical mistakes and it will not affect the meaning of a character.However, the order rule is a key to write a proper , beautiful and neat character. Handwriting can reflect one’s characteristic and Chinese people always appreciate/respect the one who has good handwriting.

Follow the 8 stroke rules and try to write these words youself!

你 (YOU) ; 去 (GO TO) ; 天(SKY) ; 串(A STRING OF/CONNECT) ;田(FARMLAND) ; 有(HAVE)

Let me know which rules you are going to apply!See if you have this talent to learn Chinese!

Challenging exercise:

I promised to share my knitting , and here we are:

oh my god... I still have one yarn

 

Finished ! finally...

The weather is getting cold….It’s time to tie a scarf everyone!

Scarf is always fashionable!

 

 

 Some may say it is weird for a man/boy to knit,however, according to Wikipedia,”men were the first to knit for an occupation“.

There is a Chinese saying,”Men Plough Women Weave”,but it’s so conservative to think that men cannot knit.

 When women can work in the farm,why men cannot sit on the sofa and have a leisure time with his two needles?

I used to believe that knitting was a women-only task in the ancient time ,so that people now still think that knitting is only or better for women. “Unfortunately”,I found that everyone knits in that time and knitting was regarded as a necessary skill.So, why do people have such a misunderstanding? I don’t know if this is the same in western countries, but it’s so comment in most of the Asian countries.

Many Hong Kongers asked two funny questions in forums, the first one is asked by boys:  “Do you mind your boyfriend knits for you?”( Why don’t ask your girlfriend,who is the real receiver?or you do care about what the others think?)

 the second one is asked by girls :”What do you think when a boy knits for you?” ( My god,why do you ask “what do you feel”  instead of “what do I feel? and this is a stupid question because the answer is just happy or unhappy, isn’t it?)

 The core of the prejudice is about gender, but I don’t want to discuss that area because knitting is indeed nothing about gender .

You are you; and I am me -We are all human beings

Why should we make things complicated ?                                                                                   Why should you choose to be biased?                                                                                                                           Don’t you think he is sexy when he is knitting?

I almost finish my own scarf, I will share my “masterpiece” with all of you!

This is Liuqin柳琴, a plucked string instrument.

Some people called it the Chinese Mandolin.

It’s my second musical instrument, I have played it for about  6 years.

Liuqin has 4 strings ,from left to right,namely, (1) D2 string , (2) G1 string , (3) D1 string and  (4) G string.

We play Liuqin with a pick. Some may use a guitar pick but actually, a professional “Liuqin-pick” is more preferred.

Liuqin is the highest-pitched  instrument in the Chinese Orchestra, therefore it always takes the responsibility to play melodies.

Liuqin was first appeared in Tang  Dynasty, it had only 3 strings in that time and could only sound a very limited range.

Liuqin had been used for accompaniment  for a long long time until it was reformed to a 4 strings and 4 octaves modernized instrument in 1970s.

The producer(master)’s name is craved on the rear.

This kinds of Liuqin are usually more expensive because they are not mass produced.

I’m playing  Liuqin in a performance of  Chinese Orchestra .

You are right, I was crossing my legs….BUT

it’s not because I’m lazy !

Actually, this is a normal and appropriate gesture for a Liuqin player.

The reason is that Liuqin is too small,

when we’re playing it, we may need to bend down  if  we don’t cross our legs.

Liuqin  is very lonely in Chinese Orchestra because normally they only need one or two Liuqins. 😦

Liuqin is now a popular solo instrument, the sound of it is very clear ,  expressive and impressive.

Yes, you desire to hear its sound? here are some Youtube videos:

張鑫華 is a famous Liuqin player in mainland China

If once you think that Liuqin can only play Chinese traditional  music

You must be surprised when you hear this

I believe that Liuqin should have some relations with mandolin. Is there anyone plays mandolin? Let me know if you don’t mind.