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The Sound of One Hand: Reaching Beyond the limits of Traditional Ink Painting

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Fu Baoshi

Fu Baoshi Landscape
I call Fu Baoshi the 'painter of mist'. When you look at his landscape paintings, you are drawn into the scene by the mist and feel as if you could almost touch and feel it with your hands and not just view the mist with your eyes.. 

Fu Baoshi (傅抱石, 1904-1965) was a Chinese painter from Xinyu (新余), Jiangxi Province. Credited with revolutionizing Chinese ink painting, Fu is perhaps the most original figure painter and landscapist of China's modern period, and one of the most important Chinese artists of the 20th century. 

Portrait of Fu Baoshi in 1947

Fu Baoshi lived in a turbulent time in China and was influenced by the political climate of his country.
In this painting, the communist influence in his country can be seen by the use of the deep red sun floating above the landscape mists. Fu Baoshi never left China during the revolution as some of his contemporaries did at the time. (i.e., Chang Dia-chein - the Picasso of China and my personal favorite Chinese artist. See my blog Picasso of China for more information.)



He was eight years old in 1912 when China's last imperial dynasty was overthrown and the Chinese Republic was established. He subsequently witnessed the divisive warlord era and Communist rebellion of the 1920s, the Japanese invasion and occupation of eastern China from 1937 to 1945, and the Communist Revolution and establishment of the People's Republic of China in 1949. Over the last fifteen years of his life, his art reflected China's political transformation under Mao Zedong. Throughout his career, however, Fu remained one of China's great individualist masters. 
Private Seal of Fu Baoshi
Fu Baoshi was considered to be mainly self-taught.  One of the first things he mastered was seal carving and became a renowned seal carver of his time.
 Seal meaning "A work with which Fu Baoshi is satisfied'. 
Fu Baoshi went to Japan to study the History of Oriental Art in the Tokyo School of Fine Arts. After returning to China in 1935, Fu taught in the Art Department of Central University (now Nanjing University). Trained in both China and Japan at a time when arts education stressed the need for the modernization of indigenous traditions through the study of Western methods, Fu Baoshi developed a new style incorporating foreign styles and techniques, and began creating boldly individualistic and strongly nationalistic work. Noting that Chinese painting had evolved toward too great a dependency on monochromatic, calligraphic brushwork, Fu sought to revive earlier traditions of realistic description that made greater use of color and ink wash. His works of landscape painting employed skillful use of dots and inking methods, creating a new technique encompassing many varieties within traditional rules. He also stressed the need for an artist to be emotionally and physically present in his art. To achieve this end, Fu Baoshi often painted while inebriated. (Some Asian art experts believe he actually drank himself to death.)  He also sought spontaneity through a spattered-ink method of painting—a kind of "action art" that parallels the working methods of some of the Abstract Expressionists. 

 Fu Baoshi had strong feelings towards the land of China. During his travel to many places, he recorded the splendors of the rivers and mountains, drawing inspiration from nature and becoming the representative landscape painter of his time.

Sources:
Metropolitan Museum of Art ~ Chinese Art in an age of Revolution
China Online Museum 
Personal Research

Below is a video of a visit to the Fu Baoshi Memorial Museum in China by my artist friends Henry Li and Santo Previteraka in December 2012.  
 

Director of North America Branch ~ ICCPS
International Chinese Calligraphy and Ink Painting Society
国際中国書法国画家協会アメリカ支部:Ms. Casey Shannon アメリカ現代水墨画家




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