Chinese painting is among the most precious of all Chinese cultural treasures. It is a unique record of the progress of Chinese history and depicts the original of Chinese characters. The earliest Chinese characters started with painting, and the development of painting and Chinese characters are synchronized and closely related. This is why people always claim that calligraphy has the same origin as painting. Consequently, Chinese people regard calligraphy as an important form of art.
Chinese painters always pay attention to a person’s all-around qualities. This is a key difference from Western painters. Chinese people insist that a master in the field of art and a masterpiece of art must be the fruit of a coherent personality and of quality. In other words, the painting represents the artist.
Chinese painting is a unique genre in China. Chinese painting is not simply “ink painting.” Irrespective of the painting instruments used, the form, structure, composition, and ideas are all concerned to depict notable and special features. This kind of painting style is the first and last among the whole world’s paintings.
Owing to the penetration of Western culture several hundred years ago, the Chinese art scene may appear to be “a hundred flowers blossoming, a hundred viewpoints contending.” But, in the context of traditional paintings, these everlasting changes are no change at all to its essential origin, its techniques of expression or its basic elements. Traditional Chinese paintings have never been changed as they are the root and spirit of all Chinese painting.
A Brush with China is part of three-museum exhibition entitled SUSI: Key to Chinese Art Today presented by Osage Art Foundation. The other participating museums are the Metropolitan Museum of Manila and the National Museum.