Crisp air in mountains and lakes

Huang Binhong1951

Hong Kong Museum of Art

Hong Kong Museum of Art
Hong Kong , Hong Kong

Huang Binhong is generally acknowledged as the most important painter of the scholarly tradition in the 20th century. Described as “dark, dense, deep and weighty”, his paintings are unique not only in Chinese art, but in the entire corpus of world art.

“The ‘darkness’ in Huang Binhong’s landscapes was the crystallization of his wisdom; the ‘denseness’ was his brushwork made more profound by his artistic explorations; the ‘fullness’ was the mystical transformation of his use of ink in old age.” His paintings, whether of mist and rain in Jiangnan, mountains and valleys in the still of night, or steep gorges in deep seclusion, are all “masses of ink within masses of darkness, expanse of earth and sky within masses of dark ink’, as Shitao had described in a poem. When we look at any of Huang’s paintings done in his late years, we see layer upon layer of dots, and layer upon layer of washes. The dots were not done for their own sake, or merely to enrich the surface of the painting. By the time he was seventy, Huang had already grasped the relationship between dot and wash on the one hand and vitality and resonance on the other, as he revealed in a poem: “With texturing and dotting strokes, I have recreated the mountains in their magnificence. Discovering this technique at the age of seventy, I can now say my artistic sojourn since my enlightenment on Jialing River is not in vain.”


  • Title: Crisp air in mountains and lakes
  • Creator Lifespan: 1865 - 1955
  • Creator Nationality: Chinese
  • Creator Gender: Male
  • Creator Death Place: Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China
  • Creator Birth Place: Jinhua, Zhejiang province, China
  • Date Created: 1951
  • Theme: Landscape
  • Scholar, Literati painter: Huang Binhong
  • Physical Dimensions: w300 x h30.6 cm
  • History of Donation: Donated by The Friends of the Hong Kong Museum of Art to the Museum in 1996
  • Artist's Biography: Born Huang Zhi, zi Pucun, Yuxiang, Huang Binhong was a native of She district, Anhui province. He developed a passionate interest in painting from an early age. He was editor of the anthology Guoxue congshu (A Compendium of Chinese Studies) and of Shenzhou guoguangji (Cathay Art Book). In 1926 Huang established the Society of Chinese Antiquities, Calligraphy and Painting, and took up the editorial duty of the bimonthly Yiguan. In 1927 he founded the Bees Painting Society. Huang moved to Beijing in 1937. He had held a number of teaching posts, including at the Ji'nan University in Shanghai, the Chinese College of Art and Literature, the National Hangzhou College of Art, and the Eastern China Chapter of the Central Academy of Fine Arts. He was director of the Academy of Art and Literature, vice-chairman of the Eastern China Artists’ Association, and head of the Research Institute of Ethnic Arts of the Central Academy of Fine Arts. His many publications include The Origin and Development of the Huangshan School of Painting and Essentials of Painting Methods. Huang is highly acclaimed as a painter of landscapes. His style is steeped in the spirit of Song and Yuan paintings, but more specifically reflects the influence of Shixi (1612 - 1692) and Shitao (1642 - 1707). Huang was an indefatigable traveller and observer of nature and he brought to his landscapes an incomparable familiarity with the natural world. His brushwork is at once massive and intricate, with a predilection for dark ink tones and for the intermingling of dry and wet brushstrokes. This was a highly individual style forged from an intimate knowledge of ancient masterpieces, of lifelong observations and diligent sketching of nature.
  • Type: Ink and colour on paper

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