Ink Scapes

While many artists used oils to portray their visions of the world, a vastly different approach was used by the artists of China. Animal hair brushes dipped in ink and masterfully applied to paper or silk became the traditional method of painting in ancient China. In modern times, this craft is still practiced, resulting in some of the most uniquely brilliant landscapes. The following ten images are a small selection of works from China and Hong Kong from 1949 - 1999. 

In this image, the artist uses lines and shape to draw focus to the towering Great Wall.The absence of ink from the center of the image to form the shape of clouds illustrates the massive size of the Great Wall, by suggesting the height of the wall. The artist then brings your attention to the smaller details of the painting with the use of red ink. The red ink draws your attention to the travelling convoy moving away from the small village. Showing life moving forward inside the Great Wall.
In this painting, the artist uses thick and dense organic shapes and colors to focus the viewer toward the mountain scene. The dark and dense trees are only overshadowed by the shape of distant mountain tops. As you follow the mountains a distinctly different shape catches your attention, a jagged and inorganic shape cast into the middle of a dense mountain landscape. A small house sits alone on a lake accompanied only by two people in a boat. The variety of strokes and techniques used to create this landscape guides you through the image until leaving you with the two small boaters. Perhaps, this is to emphasize how insignificant man is in comparison to the landscape.
The flat perspective used in this image makes this world seem tiny and oppressive. The use of dark colors and jagged lines to paint the mountains suggests an aggressive and intimidating landscape. The focal point of the image, the homes in the center, stand out with clean white lines shining through the trees. The trees themselves are bright and more organic, they seem to paint a friendly and inviting image, like the artist saw this tiny part of the landscape as a happy and beautiful place surrounded by a harsh environment.
The white space surrounding the traveller in this image emphasises the subject, the traveller. The towering dark mountains and trees painted with few colours and a strong contrast depict an approaching darkness. The landscape is given perspective and depth by the variation in lines, shapes, and details as the landscape shifts further away from the subject, perhaps suggesting a long journey.
The use of negative space resembling clouds in the center of the photo emphasises the scale of this landscape. The mountains just barely rising above the clouds blurring into the distance show the depth of the image. The variety of strokes, ink washes, and color guides the user down to the trees and closer mountain ranges. The artist uses distinct lines, shapes, and color to give detail to the rocks and trees. This focuses the viewer on the peacefulness of the snow covered mountains and trees. Still, the size of the trees puts into perspective the depth and scale of the mountain landscape.
This image is a more abstract ink landscape with the focus being the five elements of Taoism. The artists use variation in technique and style to separate five elements within the landscape. The sun, centered and outlined with other brush strokes and filled with white space, sits above the next element, fire. The element of fire is drawn with much more harsh and jagged lines. The rough brush in the bottom right is representative of earth and wood. Lastly, the blurred and small boats resting on the river depict the final two elements metal and water.
The focal point of this image is a man being executed in the bottom left of the painting. The man is almost larger than life and towers of the other features of the landscape in the foreground. The surreal mountains and trees mixed with the brilliant colors create the feeling of being in a dream, the strange figures and scale of the image aids in the dreamlike state of the image. The landscape is defined by brilliant colors and a mix of shapes and lines drawing out land masses. The artist creates a serene and beautiful landscape that turns the execution into a sidenote of everyday life within the image, almost becoming a part of the landscape itself.
A depiction of friendship was the inspiration for this painting. The focal point is the pavilion and the two friends standing in it looking out at the landscape. The artist brilliantly uses negative space to define the sky and water while the mountains painted in the center right of the image help define the skyline adding a sense of harmony and proportion to the painting. The artist focus's on using organic shapes and soft lines to create a friendly and inviting landscape. Depth is added by using variety in the contrast of the landscape.
One of the first things I thought about this image was the sense of movement. The shapes in the clouds make the image seem like it would be a breezy scenic overlook of a bay or harbor. The pathway becomes the focal point, brightly cutting through the hillside with jagged lines. The variation of colors and rhythm found in the brush strokes creating the hillside aid in depicting movement and the sense of a breezy scenic overlook. Lastly, the small and almost overlooked lighthouse on the further away island helps define proportion and depth, showing the true size of the windy peak.
Lantau Peak is the centerpiece of this landscape. The asymmetrical balance of the image created by isolating the peak from any other part of the image gives a sense of harmony to the image. Proportion is also used in an interesting way to give the viewer a sense of how massive the peak is. A small pagoda in the bottom right and tiny dots climbing up the side give scale and depth to the image. The more you look at the painting the more gigantic the peak seems. The changing color and repeated lines getting darker and less defined from bottom to top show the height of the peak, the darkness of night masking the summit. Lastly, the lines and strokes give the peak a rough texture making the peak seem even more formidable. The artist beautifully separates the peak from the rest of the landscape and gives the viewer a true sense of the monumental size of Lantau Peak.
Credits: All media
This user gallery has been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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