Utagawa Kuniteru. Nakamura Shikan. 1860.
Imperial city of Hue, Vietnam. Housed all 9 emperors during its dynasty. Ruled until 1945. City once had purple forbidden city. Plans and concept were modeled from China’s Forbidden city. Hue sits right in central of vietnam, ideal for imperial city site. Sadly the city was bombed in 1945 during war and most were damaged, some were salvaged. Some are being rebuilt or restored.
One of my favorite periods in Chinese brush painting that arose during the Song Dynasty (960-1279). Artist of the discipline enveloped Taoist principles through painting in order to highlight the complexity of the cosmos, and how the repetition in patterns and structure lead to this complexity.
"Shan shui painting is a kind of painting which goes against the common definition of what a painting is. Shan shui painting refutes color, light and shadow and personal brush work. Shan shui painting is not an open window for the viewer’s eye, it is an object for the viewer’s mind. Shan shui painting is more like a vehicle of philosophy."
Ch’eng His (via)
This overarching aim is based in three strict principles in order to achieve true balance and form:
- Paths: Pathways should never be straight. They should meander like a stream. This helps deepen the landscape by adding layers. The path can be the river, or a path along it, or the tracing of the sun through the sky over the shoulder of the mountain. The concept is to never create inorganic patterns, but instead to mimic the patterns that nature creates. (via)
- The Threshold: The path should lead to a threshold. The threshold is there to embrace you and provide a special welcome. The threshold can be the mountain, or its shadow upon the ground, or its cut into the sky. The concept is always that a mountain or its boundary must be defined clearly. (via)
- The Heart: The heart is the focal point of the painting and all elements should lead to it. The heart defines the meaning of the painting. The concept should imply that each painting has a single focal point, and that all the natural lines of the painting direct inwards to this point. (via)
One reason why this form of expression is so appealing to me is that rather than the artists trying to create something out of nothing, or rather create something that is aesthetically ideally superior, the artist relinquishes the vision to the patterns in nature in order to highlight the overwhelming complexity of our reality and the underwhelming place humans are in it’s vastness. What is thought, in light of the abyssal complexity of the cosmos, is exemplified through the mirror of nature and the outcome is beautifully intricate yet monolithic in it’s stature.
1) Li Tang - Wind in Pines Among a Myriad Valleys (1124) An Example of “Axe-Cut” Style brush strokes. One of my personal favorites of the era. (via)
2) Fan Kuan - Travelers Among Mountains and Streams (1000-1120) One of the greatest mountainous monument landscapes. Considered one of the greatest works of the Discipline. (via)
3) Li Cheng - A Solitary Temple amid Clearing Peaks (919-967) An example of using diluted ink to create a foggy dreamlike landscape. (via)
4) Guo Xi - Early Spring (1072) Highlights the inhuman perspective or a an example of a piece with multiple perspectives called “The Angle of Totality” (via)
Su Xiu (苏绣) — “Suzhou embroidery is crafted in areas around Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, having a history dating back 2,000 years. It is famous for its beautiful patterns, elegant colors, variety of stitches, and consummate craftsmanship. Its stitching is meticulously skillful, coloration subtle and refined. Suzhou artists are able to use more than 40 needlework and a 1,000 different types of threads to make embroidery, typically with nature and environment themes such as flowers, birds, animals and even gardens on a piece of cloth.A rare subset is Su double-sided embroidery which requires ultimate skill and artistry. The front and back of the piece may have different designs, but the ends are not knotted but woven in so the back can’t be distinguished.”
Source of the text.
Members of the First Japanese Embassy to Europe, in 1862, around Shibata Sadataro, head of the mission staff (seated).
North Korean Propaganda. Not sure which is worse: the ridiculous messages or the 80’s comic book art style.