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wong tsz mei Art Blog

The Exact Discipline Germinates the Seemingly Easiness(part 4)------the lacking of worthy successor

by tszmei , April 7, 2011—12:00 AM

Topics: Cixi's time, national heritage

It is from the seventeenth century ,in the period of Qing dynasty(1644-1911),that the western cultural infiltration reflected in the changed way of the artistic response to the sensory world.Another court painting presented here is an artpiece of the Xianfeng period(1851-1861).The painting depicts Empress Dowager Cixi playing a game of ___weiqi___ in a garden scene enframed with large pine,peonies in a pot,orchids growing on the ground and exotic rocks.The composition is carefully worked out and the painting executed in meticulous detail which the artist strived for and ended up in insipid exactitude and truth.There is not much agreeable aftertaste for us to savor. Why is it so different with the court paintings of the Song dynasty?

Immediately, our attentions focus on the chess table which is objectively correct descriptions of physical nature,conformable to the central perspective.Especially the Empress Dowage Cixi and the aristocratic man both resplendently in their outfits flanking the two sides of the table upgraded the position of the table.In the painting, the drawn figure of Cixi resembles her features.The delicately depicted ornate garment displays the fine workmanship of the embroidery on the gorgeous siken robe.We can imagine how beautiful the real clothe is embroidered with clumps of flowers in coloured silk threads in the main field of the robe.Other d__corative patterns are employed on the three borders edging the lapel and the hems.To take a close look,we can see a bracelet being worn on the front as a pendant.This kind of bracelet would also be worn at the wrist.The material of it is derived from agalloch eaglewood or some other fragrant tropical wood.Therefore the bracelet would diffuse a mild and very pleasant scent,beleived to be analgesic and capable of regulating respiration and unblocking blockages in body.It was used in Cixi__™s time.

We can also observe the long nails of the left hand rested on her thigh,and the other hand are just putting in the ___weiqi___box ready to take out weiqi pieces from it which is also decorated with beautiful patterns. Her headgear in the form of two outstretched wings with the embellishment of peal and hairpins,with her earrings, the pair of high-platform shoes whose uppers are of imperial yellow satin embroidered with brightly colored patterns,all these go with her attire.Moreover,the podium which Cixi is sitting on is also depicted with the colours soft and delicate revealed extremely fine quality of the articles in the court. . Opposite side of Cixi,a man standing with a slightly bending posture is also eye-catching in his plain blue gown for its large patch of unitary blue color. However, with careful observation,we would notice there are medallions of the ___shou___character,meaning longevity which was a kind of auspicious motif, on the gown.In the middle of the girdle is a jade belt hook and the thumb ring worn on right thumb seems to be the same material.Thumb ring is archer__™s ring which first appeared as an accessary worn on thumb to help to pull the bowstring,or to protect the thumb.In later period,it became just a symbol of status with purely decorative purpose.

There are some more decorative bijous hanging from the belt.The delicate small watch maybe is gold-plated for the glaring color, and the winding mechanism which was ingeniously designed,can be seen at the bottom.This kind of refined gear was exported from Switzerland or France at that time.The renowed Swiss watchmaker___Bovet___ even set up business at Fleurier in 1820,specializing in small watches for the Chinese market.Beside the hanging watch is the scent holder or fabric fragrance pouch which was carried by men and women alike to function as freshener or sanitary accessories since the Qin dynasty(221AD-207AD).Common stuffing for scent holders includes dried or flesh flowers,agarwood,sandalwood,aromatic herbs and medicinal herb. The court painter strive for exhibiting all the technical skill to describe the main figures and the chess table between them.However the perspective of the table focus our sights to the emptiness in the end, notwithstanding he tried hard to tell us how illustrious are their statuses.The two protraits in the painting are as stiff as pokers similar to two wax figures being placed in it.Therefore the whole work is exanimate.Only registered a fading fragment of the bygone glory time which petered out to emptiness which is intimated to us by the chess table with convergent perspective.

Sometimes the fluent draughtsman,facility would be a danger.Moreover,when we assimilate some new discoveries to art with continuing traditional qualities without coherent adaptation,it is at the cost of the intrinsic aesthetic value.The prospect of innovations always reflect the radical coalescence with the developmental orientation of a culture.The evolution of court paintings of Song dynasty is a successful exemple.We should understand that when there was no camera to shoot a picture many many time age, with the manipulation of brush and ink that people could record and possess the verisimilitude of nature was an utmost surprising pleasure which is beyond our imagination.

The pursuit of ___likeness___ to what can be seen was more and more sophisticated and reached a climax in Tong dynasty(581-618).At that time, the artist Wu Dao Zi was one of the outstanding elite to animate the subject matter with verve,not just an accurate representation.As time went by,the forward development in painting was in a difficult situation of finding an orientation to move on. During Song dynasty,when Hui Tsung succeeded to the throne, He frowned on the detail-oriented verisimilar expression.He sensed that inside the similitude of an image should exist the spirit to animate the whole configuration. He realized that a kind of refined affections,the poetic artistic conception being perfused in the artpiece would establish the longlasting intimate charm.

In order to enable the court artists to broaden and deepen their ideological territories, first of all,the questions given in an examination for recruiting court artists were mainly of the expressions of poems.For example,one of the questions is___A tavern at the side of a bridge in an exberant growth of bamboos___.The averge candidates put emphasis on the depicting of the tavern,while the master-hand would translate into poetic tableau the winsome verdant bamboo forest with a antiquated bridge,and a cloth signboard with the word___Wine___on it is sufficient for the intimation of tavern.Therefore all the also-runners were those lack of independent thinking and void of imaginations.

Furthermore,all the enrolled court painter still had to undergo the demanding artistic standard which was set by the emperor, and also had to participate in the training courses both of reading up classic scriptures and painting practices.Under such exacting indoctrination,the creative thinking of the individuals,the vivification of an artpiece had not been stifled;on the contrary,Hui Tsung cultivated the minds and temperaments of the artists with poetry ,mastery skill and the spirit of self-improvement, that were the prerequisite of the true masters__™ personalities.As a result, the paintings of Song court are the unintentionally exudation of the highly cultivated personalities of poised and refined manners,but without showing any trace of preciosity; so sophisticated and at the same time vigorous that the Song court paintings are the valuable national heritage.Hei Tsung is an insightful innovator who made a great contribution in the development of Chinese painting.

Chinese culture praise the individual value so much so that we equal our loftiness and mightiness as the earth and sky.We are of the same rank with earth and sky in the planet and was named___three talents___,for we have the enormous potentialities to be opened up to remedy this imperfect world.The power of introspection could remould our personalities and better our attitudes towards all things in our lives;it is also the intrinsic value of a artpiece,for an artist who has a critical mind could not put up with a tiny flaw in his work.The kernel of traditional Chinese culture is that the whole life of a person is continuous personal discipline and always in the introverted mood.Therefore in the Song court paintings,as quality suggestive of poetry being advocated, every line,every integral part In a painting is calm and serene,and at the same time they are full of melodic rhythm.

However such excellent tradition had already reached the peak,lacking worthy successor.The exactitude and stiffness of Qin dynasty court paintings are of not much aesthetic value,but still have the value of historical research.In Hong Kong,the situations of art expression and art appreciation are disappointing.The so-call contemporary arts or the false traditional innovative paintings are being greatly patronaized by the arts bureancratic organizations.Therefore the average citizens here know little about the value of traditional culture,and not to said to understand the importance of living up to it.The leadership lacking a broad and long-term-view is a calamity to traditional culture.[THE END]



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