Monday, June 13, 2011

Chinese landscape then and now

I was recently in Taipei, Taiwan and took a day off to visit the Palace Museum where the famous painting by Huang Gongwang 黃公望Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains” (painted between 1347-1350)– burnt into 2 halves in 1,650 and since then collected/preserved by and through separated routes are reunited again and the current themed exhibition in museum.  (more read….- sorry, in Chinese) But anyway, this is not the subject of this post.
Landscape usually referred as “Mountain-Water” 山水 [shān shuǐ] in China, for thousand of years, the beautiful Chinese landscape is the popular theme for painting, mostly in ink, more on state of mind than realistic painting so therefore the perfect landscape is born – beautiful mountains, fog, a few birds, the fisherman or boatman, ripples of water, perhaps the farmers, buffalo, pine or plum tress, often some cooking smokes……
And now the perfect landscape also captured by modern camera but follow the same route, it always needs the perfect light, and it has to be the side light, better to have some clouds as a contrast to the deep blue sky, and farm houses – best if there are cooking smokes, and don’t forget the birds, and buffalo (of course it can be Yak, horse, deer…..), and of course the river and big mountains.  Déjà vu, right?
Chinese is a special language, and it is an art by itself, and of course the language affects its culture, and history.  For thousands of years, the masters have set the standard, and generations after the master, follow the master, there is no shame to copy, in fact, it is encouraged to get as close (similar) as possible, for Chinese – it is learning, and that was then.  Now, most of the Chinese photographers travel to the great locations to try to duplicate the image on the postcards, or on the books, is not to be mistaken as “copy”, it is “tradition”!
Picture shot in Xinduqiao, Sichuan, China, stitched from 5 captures with Canon 5DII + EF 70-300L IS. 

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