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Yuan-dynasty landscapes: Even better than the real thing

《富春山居图》:画中山水尤胜实景.jpg


“Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains” is a famous Chinese landscape painting from the Yuan dynasty (1271–1368). A paper scroll measuring over 22 feet in length, it was revered for its virtuosity and transfixed collectors (a detail from the scroll is pictured). On his deathbed one owner even ordered its burning so that it could accompany him into the afterlife. A nephew managed to save it from the flames, though not before it had been torn in two.

《富春山居图》是中国的山水名作,绘于元代(1271年-1368年)。这长约6.7米的纸本享有无比尊崇的地位,半因画师的精湛技艺,半因如痴如狂的一众藏主。其中有甚者在弥留之际命人焚画殉葬,好令其与之俱往。其侄子将画从火中救出,不幸为时已晚,画断为了两截。

The work inspired an 18th-century emperor, Qianlong, to compose no fewer than 40 poems: he said that the countryside that sprang from the brush of the artist, Huang Gongwang, was better than the real thing. Only later did scholars determine that Qianlong's painting—inscribed with odes he had written and affixed with his seals of appreciation—was actually a fake.

18世纪,乾隆皇帝得见此画诗兴大发,连作40余首大赞黄公望笔下的山水田园,称“其美远胜实景”。但后经学者证实,乾隆题诗作赋、加盖玉玺的画实是赝品。

The art of putting ink to paper or silk to render trees, rocks, waters and mountains dates back to the third century AD, and emerged as a distinct genre in China during the Tang dynasty (618-907). After the Tang, artists of the Song dynasty refined and developed new styles. But it was during the subsequent Yuan that Chinese landscape painting, or shanshuihua, took on new meaning. The desolate huts half-obscured by pine trees reflected the artist’s inner life—mind and spirit in retreat from the Mongol forces that now ruled much of China.

这种在纸或绢上以墨绘树、绘石、绘水、绘山的艺术最早可以追溯到公元3世纪。唐代(618年-907年),水墨画开始自成一派。唐朝覆灭后,宋代的艺术家们改进了绘画技法并发展出全新的绘画风格。随后宋亡元兴,山水画在朝代的更迭中有了全新的含义。彼时蒙古入主中原,统治着中国的半壁江山,文人们大多失意落寞,画中松枝半掩的孤棚便是内心世界的写照。

An exhibition at the Freer-Sackler Gallery in Washington, DC, called “Style in Chinese Landscape Painting: The Yuan Legacy” considers the styles of four Yuan-dynasty masters whose techniques and aesthetics shaped the landscape traditions that followed them. The influence of a fifth artist, Zhao Mengfu, who worked in the Yuan imperial courts, is also touched upon.

位于华盛顿特区的弗利尔·萨克勒美术馆(Freer-Sackler)推出了名为“中国山水画风格——元代遗珍”展览,展出了四位元代山水画大师的作品。元四家的作画技法及审美观念塑造了后世山水画的传统。此外,该展览还展出了曾在元朝为官的赵孟頫的画作。

This could not have been an easy show to curate. Few great Yuan works survive, and those that do are mostly housed in museums in East Asia. “Yuan Legacy” contains only two original works by the painters whose impact is celebrated. Instead, it wisely concentrates on later works that show each man's style as it was copied and re-envisioned by inheritors of the tradition.

此次展出不可谓不难得。元代画作存世甚少,即便留存下来的,也大多保存于东亚地区的博物馆内。“元代遗珍”展中仅有两件是名家原作。主办方明智地将重点放在了元代后期的作品上,以复制品或后人临画的形式展示每位大师独特的绘画风格。

An exhibition about the Yuan style that primarily shows Ming- and Qing-era paintings may seem perplexing, but it illustrates the idea of a legacy. The show’s curator, Stephen Allee, rightly observes that it is nearly impossible to speak of later Chinese landscapes without referring to earlier eras. The show includes a copy of a portion of “Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains” that was painted centuries later by Wang Hui, considered one of the greatest Qing painters. Evolution and continuity are both evident.

以元代绘画为主题的展览同时展出明清时期的画作,这似乎令人有些摸不着头脑,但细想其实正点明了一个“遗”字。恰如馆长斯蒂芬·阿利所说,空谈中国山水画,不提其早期时代是行不通的。展品中还包括了王翚在《富春山居图》问世几世纪后所作的临本。王翚是清代最富盛名的画家之一,临本中可以清晰看见他对原作的传承和发展。

These works of blacks, greys and occasional other pale colours reveal startling range and expressiveness. For example, painters who drew from the aesthetic of Huang Gongwang, the oldest of the four Yuan artists, admired his voluptuous mountains and towering plateaus, formed by dragging a brush along the paper.

山水画以黑、灰为主,偶尔掺杂些较浅的颜色,但却能展现惊人的层次感和表现力。以元四家中最年长者黄公望为例,其最令后人钦羡的,便是以笔拖擦而出的撩人青山和耸立高原。

Adherents of the style of Ni Zan tended to prefer dry inks that made their compositions look almost like charcoal drawings, rather than paintings. Lake Tai, on whose shores Ni Zan lived, was a favourite subject of his: the centre of his works is often dominated by a vast, blank lake.

倪瓒的追随者更喜用焦墨渴笔,画作由是似炭笔而非水墨所作。倪瓒曾居于太湖湖畔,太湖也因此成了他最钟情的主题:画面的中间多是空空茫茫的一片湖水。

This tranquil simplicity contrasts starkly with the layered brushwork of Wang Meng, whose surfaces are dense with ink. “Dwelling in Seclusion in the Summer Mountains” (1354), one of the two dated Yuan-master paintings on show, has towering, rolling peaks heavily dotted with vegetation. Some lines look as fine as etchings.

与倪瓒的静谧、简逸形成鲜明对比,王蒙的画多层层皴染,浓墨重彩。展览中仅有两幅画标注了日期,王蒙的《夏日高隐图》(Dwelling in Seclusion in the Summer Mountains,1354年)便是其中之一。画中峰峦耸立,重岩叠嶂,林木苍翠,点染其间,线条遒劲,好似刻就。

But while the show has enjoyable breadth, it is lacking in depth. It offers little sense of what meaning each artist saw in his work. No translation and little context is offered for the inscriptions that are written on many of the pieces. This diminishes the visitor’s experience, since such paintings were thought to be incomplete without beautifully written words. Shanshuihua painters were also often able poets and calligraphers, though some artists and collectors would invite others whose poems and characters they admired to adorn their paintings. In fact, the original version of “Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains” was lost for years because an early owner of the original sent it off to be written on by calligraphers.

但可惜展览实际广度有余,深度不足。画中款识没有译文,画家画作缺少背景介绍,令人无从得知作画意图和画家的所思所想,参观者想到没有美文与之相配,不免遗憾扫兴。山水画家大都工诗文,精书法,但不少画家和收藏家更愿意邀请自己仰慕的诗人或书法家给画再增些光、添点彩。《富春山居图》曾经的一位藏主就是因为要题字才丢了画,几年后才找到。

Columns of characters written by Wu Zhen, another Yuan master, appear above the people that float along his expansive scroll, “Fishermen, after Jing Hao” (1342). “Why is his silken line made so very frail and thin?/He only goes into the lake to feed a single person,” reads one poem. “He only fishes for perch, and does not fish for fame,” goes another. The paints were meant to evoke a mood, the words a philosophy. The latter have been left neglected in “Yuan Legacy”, and that is a pity.

吴镇的名画《仿荆浩渔父图》(Fishermen, after Jing Hao)上有众多的题词,但最精妙的还数出自他本人的诗句,其一是“如何小小作丝纶,只向湖中养一身”(Why is his silken line made so very frail and thin?He only goes into the lake to feed a single person),其二则是“只钓鲈鱼不钓名”(He only fishes for perch, and does not fish for fame)。画动情,诗晓理。“元代遗珍”忽略后一点,实在可惜。

2016-06-22

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