Academic journal article Studies in Literature and Language

Establishment of Meaning of Ink Wash Painting in Modern Times: Evolution of Chinese Ink Wash Painting as a Formal Language of Oriental Figure Painting

Academic journal article Studies in Literature and Language

Establishment of Meaning of Ink Wash Painting in Modern Times: Evolution of Chinese Ink Wash Painting as a Formal Language of Oriental Figure Painting

Article excerpt


As an ancient oriental type of figure painting, Chinese ink wash painting's development and evolution is the most prominent part that most reflects the characteristics of contemporary era in Chinese artistic exploration in the 20th century. Present Chinese ink wash figure painting has already become one of the forms of creation among Chinese painting mainstream and the reform spirit it reflects has special aesthetic meaning to Chinese contemporary art in the multicultural background. This paper analyzes the language form transformation that Chinese ink wash figure painting has achieved by drawing on western modern artistic concepts for reference and other issues including artists' individual and personalized representation styles; it also discusses the artistic spirit and contemporary cultural significance reflected by deconstruction of classical ink wash painting language and integration of modern works under the background of globalization.

Key words: Chinese painting; Ink wash painting language; Multiculture; Formal language


Chinese ink wash painting is a typical cultural symbol reflecting oriental aesthetic awareness. In the longtime development of classical art, Chinese painting has established the language of ink wash painting possessing unique national characters. There exists a positive correspondence between its development and evolution and continuous shiftof the cultural background, which reflects overall penetration of philosophic concept into the artistic form. Confucianism and Taoism that built the foundation of thought and culture of ancient Chinese society deeply affected artistic style and style evolution of Chinese painting. In the 20th century as various western philosophical thoughts and artistic concepts came into sight of Chinese culture, they influenced the expression style of Chinese modern art on another level.


No art form can separately exist without its culture that serves as the soil with which art form develops. In other words, culture provides context for the existence of art. Chinese painting that possesses character of showing the traditional cultural depth and breadth is the complete statement of philosophical theory that man is an integral part of nature in art. The Taoism's praising of ink wash art has built basic frame of formal language of Chinese painting. Ink wash painting that formed during pursuit of harmonious coexistence of people and nature has greatly enriched painting concepts and expression techniques. Chinese painting has unique and profound qualities and essences of traditional culture, from which we can catch a glimpse of sense of national culture identity and cultural awareness.

The language form and even artistic form of traditional Chinese paintings are uninterruptedly carried forward. Painting's connotation is indicated by language of ink wash painting possessing cultural trait that is formed through reflections and insights on life and artistic value of images and colors has turned into the expression of life awareness from visual form. Artistic development cannot be separated from the progress of national aesthetic view and aesthetic ideal, nor can it be separated from acceptance of artists' psychological makeup of personalized languages. Besides, the artists' requirements on expression are satisfied by obtaining new languages. Establishment of new visual forms based on existing formal language of painting itself is of significance to cultural inheritance.

Ink wash language bears the aesthetic accumulation by means of a special expression mode, with prominent characteristics of abstraction and stylization. The intervention of writing technique of oriental calligraphy in the painting further strengthens the features of Chinese painting language including abstraction, virtuality, and planarity. Essentially different with common visual artistic form, "Chinese painters particularly emphasize on lines and regard lines as main tool of drawing and expression. …

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