Fascinating World in Colors: Colored Freehand Brushworks by Wang Qingzhou
  Author:Dao Zi   Resource:Artron.net   2013-10-07 15:34:50  

Chen Shi, a famous scholar and painter of the Republican period, published “The Value of Literati Paintings” in the journal Painting Theories in 1912. He pointed out for the first time that the essential factors for literati painting were moral quality, knowledge, talents and insight and all of them were indispensible for a perfect work. Today it seems that such a theory is helpful to revive ink and wash art by advocating hiding the value of art from the chaotic art revolution and infusing it into the subtle essence of art.

Deriving his colored freehand brushworks from traditional literati flower-and-bird paintings, Wang Qingzhou has both endowed his works with elements of literati paintings and merged modern artistic language, which is expressive, abstract and meaningful, into natural observation and depiction. Examined in the development course of contemporary ink-and-wash painting, his creation is no less than a successful experiment in reviving the tradition and breaking new ground.

By “reviving the tradition”, we mean that his unique style is achieved by vigorous strokes resembling those presented in handwriting works, which results from the painter’s accomplishment in calligraphy. His mature paintings, which feature brilliant colors sprinkled unrestrainedly, are completed with rhythmic lines linking and weaving all the elements, for which the pictures seem so harmonious and coherent. By “breaking new ground”, we mean that he paints in a completely free way that has integrated various painting techniques. He feels everything with all his heart and then gets embraced by the universe. With the spirit of freedom, he entered a clear realm previously covered by the curtain of physical world, in which he has achieved a refreshing, natural and fascinating style.

His bamboos are typically calligraphic: the joints are drawn in strokes with abrupt stops, ink applied to the stems is perfectly precise, and the pure colors such as scarlet and brown are adopted to achieve graceful complementariness and vividness.

When it comes to flowers, the painter has drawn their various shapes out of sketching. Not content to merely get rid of the stylized patterns, he has further merged subjective connotation into his creation, making the changeableness of time leak from the nuances resulting from rays of light, colors and lines contrasting, mingling and integrating with each other. His recent paintings such as The Cherry Tree in Ancient China, Charming Scarlet in Mouth, Wonder Excelling Nature, Boundless Green in the Lotus Pool and Blossoming among Greenery,[A1]  as well as the previous works including Summer Flowers, Dimming World, Fragrance Floating with Wind, The Passed Autumn, Overlap, Flower Sea in My Heart and Chrysanthemum Series, are all exquisite masterpieces with connotations going beyond the picture.

Besides works mentioned above, I am also impressed by his experimental ink-and-wash paintings such as “Sadness Echoing Ape Calls” and “Sketching on The Potala Palace”, within which the usual signifying of painting symbols have been totally changed by concern about culture and nature. They, with seemingly fragmental structure and impure colors, are indeed implying depiction of the painter’s inner world. Presented in sketching style, the pictures, which are comprised of simple lines, ink spots and such colors as light purple, yellowish brown and scarlet, are overflown with deep merciful emotion. Such grand paintings predicts that ink-and-wash art will be ushered into a new world after the academic “sketching” is refreshed by life writing and ecological concerns.

Thus we can see that the key to effectively innovate in contemporary landscape paintings and flower-and-bird paintings is nothing but casting off the outdated practices of over-emphasizing painting categories and techniques and embracing ecological aesthetic wisdom. The contemporary ecological art containing ancient ecological wisdom, resources and discourse should be created by integrating ancient insight with modern theories, such as “keeping harmony between human and nature” with aesthetical view of ecological existentialism, “finding beauty of neutral” with “poetic dwelling”, “human beings are superior to the rules, heaven and earth” with the western theory of “world games among heaven, earth, god and people”, homesickness poetry and auspicious symbols with “homeland consciousness”, “choosing ideal place to live” and “sense of place”, as well as ancient poetic wisdoms including comparison, modeling and uniqueness-forming with ecological poetics.

July 2, 2013 in Tsinghua University

(The author is a professor and doctoral supervisor in Academy of Art & Design, Tsinghua University)

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