Wang Hui 汪辉 and Chinese XieYi Painting
In this article, Wang Hui 汪辉 tells us about Chinese XieYi and other painting styles.
Shexian, Huizhou, near Huangshan (Yellow Mountain) in Anhui province has long been recognised as one of the most important centres for Chinese painting, as well as home also to Old Hu Kai Wen Ink workshop and traditional inkstone workshop. We asked the Shexian painters to tell us about their techniques and materials.
Wang Hui is a representative of the Xin’an school of painting which originated here. He is specialises in painting trees, birds, plants and fish. In this article, he is going to tell us how to appreciate Chinese XieYi paintings. Click on the paintings to view/browse.
All these XieYi Chinese paintings are done with Chinese raw Xuan paper, and sometimes half-cooked Xuan Paper (see: Chinese Xuan 1,000 Year Old Truth Paper section on paper types.
In fact, there are also paintings about the whole tree. For example, in this painting, I painted a very big tree trunk, with two birds resting in the tree leaves. The theme of this painting is ‘the garden of Eden’. It means this huge tree is paradise for the birds. In fact, this tree is also paradise for human beings, isn’t it? Chinese painting makes very good use of imagination and space. You have to understand the meanings expressed by the artist. Only you understand this, you could understand the feelings that the artist wants to transfer through the painting. Otherwise, you would not feel much impressed by the painting. This might not be like traditional west paintings.
Chinese paintings are poetic. This painting is to express the beauty of spring by painting some flowers. Since spring means a lot of colors, painting some purple flowers in the painting expressed the spring touch. It is a very poetic expression.
Another example would be this painting. It is a painting of bamboos. The different use of inks and brushes have created different images of the bamboos leaves. A small piece of leave could express so much. From the whole painting, it seems a bit light and unbalanced. Therefore, I wrote a poem on the bottom of the painting. This makes the whole picture harmonized.
Chinese painting makes very good use of imagination and space. You have to understand the meanings expressed by the artist. Only if you understand this, can you understand the feelings that the artist wants to transfer through the painting. Otherwise, you would not feel very impressed by the painting. This might not be like traditional western paintings.
Today I am going to show you how to do a Chinese style painting. It is not creating an artistic piece. I am just showing you the basic steps. Chinese paintings have different categories, such as landscape, profile, flowers & birds, etc. This is a very simplified way to categorize Chinese paintings. Today, I am going to show you how to paint fish. When doing Chinese painting, you have to know clearly on what you are going to paint. You have to know the shape of the things you are going to paint. When you are painting, you can use your methods of using brushes and inks to express the deep meaning of the painting. I use the middle and side part of the brush. The inks can be light, strong, dry, and wet. You can use the point of the brush, the body, and the bottom of the brush to create different images. I used colors to paint, now I am going to use some ink.
I want to express Zhuang Zi’s idea about freedom. This is ‘dip ink’, which mean eye. Then, I use some dark green ink to draw water grasses. Some plants are gathered while others are scattered. This side has more grass, while the other side less. Chinese paintings pay a lot of attention to the comparison, black and white, abundance and few, strong and light, dry and wet, gathered and scattered, etc. Therefore, we think there are many ways to interpret Chinese paintings. For example, now I am ‘Dian Tai’. During this process, I should be careful about how much of ink I can use, where, and how much strength I should use on brushes.