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Ancient temple among mountains and valleys

Li Yaoping1926

Hong Kong Museum of Art

Hong Kong Museum of Art

This painting is done in a traditional style called the “light blue-and-green”. It is typified by a diaphanous but vibrant application of washed down ink and pigments of blue and green in various tones. The zigzag formation creates a landscape of mountains on either banks of a river. As the title suggests, there is an ancient temple in the foreground, almost hidden by the lush foliage. The hilly landform on the other side of the river is half hidden by the mist and clouds. The overall effect reminds one of the exquisite “blue-and-green landscapes” of the Suzhou School, with more pronounced tones created by the use of mineral blue and mineral green.

When looking closely at the temple in the foreground, one can see decorative features typical of Guangdong architecture on the roof. This attention to detail and realistic rendering, and the use of perspective - a Western concept - for the buildings, illustrate the artist’s attempt at introducing new elements to traditional Chinese painting, an innovation proposed by the Chinese Painting Research Society.

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  • Title: Ancient temple among mountains and valleys
  • Date Created: 1926
  • Theme: Landscape
  • School: Chinese Painting Research Society
  • Physical Dimensions: w41 x h109.2 cm
  • Chinese painter: Li Yaoping
  • Artist's Biography: Li Yaoping was a native of Guangdong. His first teacher was Guan Shaoquan (active in mid-19th century, but later he learnt by gleaning from the various artistic schools of the Ming and Qing periods, in particular the Suzhou style of Xie Shichen (1487 - 1567) of Ming and the Shanghai style of Wu Shixian (? - 1916) of the early 20th century. He joined the Guihai Painting Co-operative in 1923, and later became a core member of the Chinese Painting Research Society.
  • About the Chinese Painting Research Society: In July 1923, eight Guangdong artists – Pan He (1873 – 1929), Yao Lixiu (1878 – 1939), Huang Bore (1901 – 1968), Zhao Haogong (1881 – 1948), Lu Guanhai (unknown), Lu Zhenhuan (1886 – 1979), Huang Shaomei (1886 – 1940) and Luo Zhuo (unknown) - founded a painting cooperative group in Guangzhou. Later, Deng Fen (1894 – 1964), Luo Zishu (1900 – 1978), Huang Junbi (1898 – 1991), Wen Qiqiu (1862 – 1941), He Guanwu (unknown), Zhang Guchu (1891 – 1968) and Li Yaoping (1880 – 1937) also joined. They named their group the Guihai Painting Cooperative to commemorate the guihai year (1923) of the traditional Chinese calendar. The growth and success of the Guihai Cooperative drew attention to its founders’ original mission, namely that “we regard a well-established organization working to promote and develop the traditions of Chinese painting as necessary”. As an ever-increasing number of people supported this mission, amongst whom were artists and literati from various disciplines, the Guihai Cooperative continued to thrive and grew to become the Chinese Painting Research Society in March 1925. The Society was officially registered under its new name in February 1926 and chapters were later founded in Hong Kong and Dongguan. According to the Chinese Painting Magazine published in 1928, the Society had a membership of 181, which continued to increase in the following years and the Society ultimately became the most important art organization in southern China.
  • Type: Ink and colour on silk


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