……was the subject this month at both the Huntington and studio classes. It was introduced in China around the turn of the last century and brought a French Impressionist’s view along with the use of opaque white to traditional Chinese Brush painting. Lingnan is always great fun as it’s not as rigid as Classical Brush painting and we can do so many interesting things.
THE LINGNAN SCHOOL OF SOUTHEAST CHINA
Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something True 20th Century Marriage Of Old & New Tradition Of East & West.
Art and civilization are much like the people who create them. They get tired or stale, sometimes bored and listless. Chinese Brush painting is no exception; like all art and culture, it has always needed infusions of the ‘New’, new influences, new ideas, and new inspiration. And, as we know, it is all the better for it. This need for renewal is good evidence that sturdy values and strong traditions, like the Chinese, survive and revivify by meeting the recurrent challenge of new ‘vitalities’ and ideas. In China, this challenge is met by ‘change without changing’. This is the Chinese way.
In this sense, the Lingnan School or Lingnan ‘thought’ is a marriage of old and new, bold and bright, or pale, gorgeous color, strong or light with simple line, formal or free. New expression, new delight, both Oriental and European, inform your impression, Lingnan style. For Lingnan loves and preserves all that’s useful and old, using the ‘new’ to make the old yield up new mysteries and impressions. Lingnan seeks to renew, revitalize, reinforce, not just Chinese Brush painting but all culture, including Western. It enriches all world culture.
And that’s ART!
That’s Lingnan, China’s 20th century response (since 1912) to the ossified ‘bones’ of Chinese and all art and literature everywhere. Lingnan art so delights the Western eye – in Europe and the New World – that most books on Chinese Brush painting depict the bold Lingnan influences. These are the Chinese books and paintings we love so much in America today. We love it because it is so fresh, vital and full of energy and impression. Like most radical reform, the ‘radicals’ of Lingnan know they must first ‘defend the faith’ in order to change it. They know they must insist they are the true keepers of the flame. They are true to tradition and true to the devotion, practice and intentions of the founders.
The Lingnan School finds this useful and practical.
Lingnan began developing its early roots in the 19th century, and came into full flower under Dr. Sun’s Western-style democratic revolution which overthrew the Ching dynasty in 1912. Kao, the Lingnan founder, was a close friend of Dr. Sun, who was a Methodist, and so Kao enjoyed the favor of the new Chinese Republic. Lingnan thrived until Mao’s Cultural Revolution destroyed the Chinese art and literary movements, killing thousands of intellectual leaders. Today, there is a resurgence of Lingnan in mainland China and the arts are thriving once again.
Kc shows us her beautiful ‘Plum in the Moonlight’.
Kathy also concentrated on a Plum subject giving her paper the look of antique silk. There’s also a moon in the upper right corner. Can you see it? ELEGANT!!!
I guess we were on a roll here with the ‘Moonlight’ Plum’…Lynne’s moon is sensational! This was accomplished by panting around the moon and letting the white of the paper show. Good job Lynne!
Happy Lingnan artists!
The Lingnan School pays strict homage to the past in Chinese Brush Painting, assigning tribute to all the geniuses in Chinese art history. (And there are many) But, truthfully, a good, honest look at Lingnan will tell you that it’s a rather radical break with the past. It is still authentic Chinese Brush in the highest sense. But, like most previous departures from the main Chinese traditions, Lingnan borrows heavily – and unabashedly – from new or outside influences, even as it gives honor to the ancient past.
Dr. Sun’s ascent to democratic power in 1912 made Kao (Kao Chien-fu, 1879-1951) the dominant force in Chinese art. He went to Paris and Tokyo to study Japanese and European art. He absorbed profound cultural influences which he later fused with Chinese Brush painting when he founded the Lingnan School.
Kao regarded Lingnan as one of the greatest cultural events in the 3,000-year history of Chinese art. He said Lingnan was the most important event in the last thousand years of Chinese Brush. Considering Lingnan’s continuing impact for nearly a century now, Kao may have been right. Considering the scope and sweep of the Lingnan style, and its thousands of patrons and devotees around the world, there is no doubt that Lingnan’s claims must be taken seriously.
Kao was not the first to introduce new ideas and techniques, new ways of thinking, into Chinese Brush. With all the talk of Tradition, the great people and culture of China survive and eventually prevail and prosper precisely because the Chinese are resilient beyond belief, and able to absorb and enhance every cultural shock and change.
Volumes have been written about all this, and about Lingnan style and influence. And even more will yet be written. The important point is that Lingnan charms us and gives us a powerful way to depict our own view of man and nature, Heaven and earth, mind and spirit, and the immutable source of it all. It is a philosophy of art that need not necessarily be in conflict with other philosophies. Dr. Sun of the first Chinese Republic was a devout Methodist, and yet he was taken by the power and the impact of Lingnan, seeing no intentional nihilism or philosophical opposition to his strong faith. Artists and patrons of all philosophies and faiths since then have been able to share Dr. Sun’s appreciation of Lingnan. Most of us do.
What the artist needs to know most about Lingnan, however, is ‘How-To’ and “What’s It All About?”
If you like Ink-wash, Lingnan says go for it. Use water in your brush – wet brush, to achieve a variety of Ink tones, hues or shades. Water!
Or maybe you prefer color! Maybe you love color. Even gorgeous color! If so, Lingnan beckons happily. Whatever you wish, Splish-splash, Po-Mo, Mo-ku, Flower Bird, Landscape. Go for it!
Class at the Huntington….I’m explaining the Lingnan method.
and more demonstrating….
Working on getting the mountains reflected in the water….another Lingnan technique.
Done! Class voted on my keeping this a winter scene….
Pale tints, Blazing color or soft color, and also, the use of White.
Wet Brush and dry Brush too.
This style validates many traditions, many cultures, many other styles, including the artists. Lingnan School says, “We are the world!” It says it and means it.
Lingnan means Freedom …. Innovation … Tradition … the art of the Orient … the Art of Europe and America. Synthesis in its highest form.
Wild or formal!
Wet Brush! Or wet and dry!
Ink wash or wide-ranging color! Strong or pale!
What a perspective of impression …
What fun …
SHAN-SHUI: MOUNTAIN WATER
A VIEW FROM THE IMPRESSIONIST PINNACLE
Chinese Landscape is a delightful exercise of mind and spirit. It is a joyous and artistic excursion into the meadows and the valleys, the quiet lakes and streams, and the highest mountains, giving glory to the pine and the rocks which the eye employs to enjoy the mists of time and spirit.
In Chinese, such Landscape art is called Shan-Shui or Mountain Water. It is the kind of Chinese Brush painting that gives the artist a chance to meditate, to contemplate, to think about life’s highest values. Enjoyment, the union with joy and happiness, should be part of it all.
Shan-Shui lends itself perfectly to Lingnan.
I guess this boatman is skimming along on the ice!
Great work being done by Therese and daughter Natisse!
Hope you had a chance to see the ‘Orchid Mystique’ show at the Huntington. It was breathtaking!
Even the white is vibrant!
A delightful Lady Slipper….
This one would be a great subject…..
Better than chocolate!
This precious child belongs to one of the exhibitors. What a treasure!!!!
Here’s my work from a studio class. Decided to concentrate on the Plum tree and keep the background subtle.
Art is everywhere….all around us!