After a break we return to the Chinese art. We've discussed their way of storing paintings. And what about the painting itself? What are its features compared to the traditional Western art? Their materials are different as we have already said
Let's first answer the question why an artist creates a picture. Western artists usually want to express themselves, their goal is to create vivid feelings, emotional response. Chinese artists do not express themselves, they express the world and its harmony, their task is not to evoke emotions, but rather to create a state of peace and harmony. This approach is explained by the peculiarities of the Chinese metaphysics. Yin and Yang generate each other, therefore, a great joy begets more sadness, in this respect, it is much better to stay in balance, in the middle; not Yin, not Yang, but the Dao.
Artists reveal the idea of harmony with natural images. Harmony is the balance of Yin and Yang, because in the picture, as a rule, there is a balance in various aspects. Balance in the elements of the image — if there are mountains (Yang), there will be waterfall or fog (Yin); if there is grass (Yin), there will be a stone or an insect, a bird (Yang). The balance of fullness and emptiness; for the Europeans a Chinese painting can look unfinished — there is no background! There is a balance of pictorial means: strokes, dry and wet, black and light gray colors or leaves in the shades of gray, and red flowers.
The choice of the theme also serves the aim of harmony, it can only be auspicious, a picture like The Scream by Munch is impossible in China.
In painting artists strive to convey the very essence of the subject, not its external similarity. The famous master Qi Baishi said: "In painting skill is on the verge of similarity and difference; the full similarity is too vulgar, the dissimilarity is deception." The transmission of the spirit, the movement of qi energy distinguish a good picture from a mediocre one. To catch this energy, to enter the stream the artist's identity should be derived from the equation, it needs to reach voidness, complete detachment, marking the presence of Dao in human consciousness. Here is what the famous painter and poet Wang Wei wrote in his The Mystery of Painting treatise: "Among the ways of the artist simple ink is above all. He will reveal the nature of nature, he'll end the act of the Creator. Who looks at a painting, he seeks to focus on the spirit. Then he discerns the clean spaces and the brush strokes."
To make these arguments more concrete, let's look at the familiar picture by Savrasov Rooks Have Come Back.
Look at it, listen to your feelings. They are bright and very particular: you feel the humid air, hear the cries of the rooks, the ringing of distant bells, feel the warmth of the sun's rays, the picture is filled with images and thoughts. And now look at the painting Old Trees and Level Distance by Guo Xi.
The theme is very similar: a building behind the trees, possibly the same time of year, but are there the same feelings from its contemplation? The picture does not cause bright emotions, it is not about a specific place and time, it seems to be about nothing, but at the same time about everything. You fall into it, it stops time and thoughts.
Probably because of the desire to convey the essence, not the external similarity, Chinese artists do not work from nature. They study the subject of the image for a long time, watching it, they get filled with its spirit, become it, and then paint it with just a few strokes.
There is a similar story with landscapes. They are usually written from the top, there is no perspective in the European sense. What's next is above in the picture, it seems that artists know how to fly!
Different plans and images have symbolic meaning. Often, the foreground is connected with the middle distance by a bridge or a boat, it's about the opportunity to move from the household level to the level of spiritual development. And distant mountains, often with a monastery, are seen beyond the sea of clouds — the spiritual peaks are far away and difficult to reach!
Deep symbolism is another important feature of the Chinese painting. Each object has its symbolic kind meaning. Often it is based on homonymy, the same sound of the depicted objects and concepts. For example, Chinese cabbage sounds the same as "hundred of wealth"; grasshopper sounds like "an official", and as grasshopper jumps well, its image means rapid promotion; magpie on a flowering plum sounds like "ends of eyebrows rise with joy", persimmon sounds like "business" and symbolizes success in all affairs.
But even without knowing the Chinese language and thus not realizing the full extent of the symbolism in Chinese painting, the viewer can sense its meditative, harmonizing potential. Creating and contemplating Chinese painting, you don't splash out energy, but gain it!
I wish you all balance and harmony! Illustrations — the works by Guo Xi, Shi Tao, Qi Baishi, Wang Wei, Ni Zan, Ma Yuan.