Academic journal article Cross - Cultural Communication

On the Cultural Difference and Performance in the Modernization Process of Chinese and Japanese Painting for the Twentieth Century

Academic journal article Cross - Cultural Communication

On the Cultural Difference and Performance in the Modernization Process of Chinese and Japanese Painting for the Twentieth Century

Article excerpt


China and Japan have a long history in the communication of the two countries' culture and arts. Chinese drawing and Japanese drawing, belonging to the eastern Asian art circle, share common aesthetic tendency and cultural identity and affect, enrich each other during the process of mutual exchange and absorption, and stand in the worldwide national arts in parallel. The modem Japanese drawing, based on the absorption of Chinese traditional drawing and western drawings, forms its own distinct national characteristics, diffuses along with the culture and arts communication and brings enlightenment and influences on the modem development, transition and research.

Key words: Chinese drawing; Modem Japanese drawing; Transformation of modernization


There exists an inseparable historical origin between Japanese culture and Chinese traditional culture. Chinese scholars put forward a concept of "Chinese cultural circle" regarding the research on Chinese and Japanese relations, with the opinion that eastern Asian countries including Japan, Korea and Vietnam are members of "Chinese culture circle". Before the western European culture is imported into these countries in 19th century, these countries take China as model for political structure, production model and manners and customs etc. Chinese characters are universal in these countries and Chinese characters are very popular until the early Meiji (Wang, 1989).

Culture and art of China and Japan are mutually affected due to their special location. As a form of national art from two different countries, Chinese drawing and Japanese drawing have a deep historical origin and reflect the intimacy of the two traditional cultures. Scholar Lauroence Binyon (1869-1943) in the direction of eastern culture, said in his book of the spirit of man : "In Japanese art history, it absorbs the initial inspiration from China, gradually develops its own character and accepts the new theme" (Sun, trans., 1988, pp.95-96). Chinese arts play an impressive and wide influence on the aesthetic view and art style of Japanese arts. Japanese drawing absorbs a lot of nutrition from Chinese traditional arts and finally forms their own special style. In the opinion of Japanese scholars, there will be no Japanese culture without Chinese culture and even they compare Chinese culture as "arts of father" of Japan.

According to Japanese historical records, since the Sui and Tang dynasty, the cultural communication between Japan and China started and Chinese drawing affected the Japanese drawing inconsistently to make the Japanese drawing correspondingly have the popular style of Chinese drawings. During 13-16 centuries, ink painting arts of Song Yuan dynasty are popular in the age of Japan's muromachi and lots of famous masters in ink art painting appeared. During 17-19 centuries, Chinese literati painting influenced the south movement of Edo period and most of Chinese painters went to Japan to diffuse the painting skills. The Japanese painters are proud of knowing Chinese culture. Since the 19th century, most of drawings of Japanese artists are reflected with Chinese literati paintings' influence. The Japanese paintings are impressively influenced by Chinese traditional paintings because of the historical origin of Chinese and Japanese culture, which embodies the aesthetic conception and unique national spirit of eastern arts.

Japanese painting and Chinese painting keep the relation in the early 19th century. After Meiji restoration, Japanese painting has developed to be an independent system and comes to be a new model and important part of eastern drawing. Reversion occurred in the eastern movement of mainland culture. Modern Japanese drawing with national character is formed by absorbing Chinese traditional arts and Western arts and it also brings inspirations and influences to the transformation of Chinese modernized paintings.


Japanese drawing surpassed the classical form, coming to be a representative modem drawing, as a result of coaction of different cultural pattem and social background. …

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