The Discipline of Chinese Painting: An Internal Reflection of Life & Art

1548 Words7 Pages
When one comes into contact with a Chinese painting, the style is almost instantly recognizable. The attention to detail, craftsmanship, and vast depictions of elaborate landscapes appear to pay homage to mother earth in an attempt to reach a state of eternal balance with nature and life. Before this equilibrium could be achieved, one must attain internal discipline. This was required before one began mastering their brushwork in Chinese culture. In Mai Mai Sze’s “The Way of Chinese Painting,” 1959, New York: Vintage Books, Random House, Sze discusses the philosophy known as Daoism/Tao, or “the way.” Before one became a skilled painter, one trained in the personal disciplines of poetry, art, calligraphy, and internal…show more content…
Mai Mai Sze presents a logical methodology breaking down the often-misunderstood complexity of Daoism. Sze describes tao “in the simplest sense…path” (The Way of Chinese Painting, 17). Continued, “Step-by-step progress requires care and deliberation and, by extension, careful and deliberate conduct or behavior from an inner motivation.” This journey was not something one could accomplish overnight; instead it is understood as a way of living out ones life to the fullest. This journey was not only into one’s own mind, but also into what surrounds them. Including tools, control of the medium was a necessity, just as restrain over the sensitivity of the brush was needed when writing Chinese characters. A minor error in a character could change the entire meaning of the symbol. Symbols are often associated with Chinese culture. From the calendar year to writing, Chinese symbolism is utilized significantly. One symbol often recognized by the Western world is the Yin Yang; however the meaning is often misunderstood. The theory of the Yin Yang is presented as a balance between Male Principle (sun, right) and Female Principle (moon, left). As the two converge inward, they also radiate outward reflecting the ideology of Tao itself. This development of proportion and attention to fine detail required
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