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Sacred Mountains, Sublime Summits
The Myth of the Landscape in the 20th Century

17.05.2011 to 16.10.2011

Landscape painting is considered the noblest genre in Chinese painting. Its chief concern is not the depiction of an actual or even fantastical scenario, rather the potential for artists and viewers alike to use the medium of painting to immerse themselves in their creative faculties.

The complex layers of meaning in landscape painting make it a genre that has left an indelible mark on the Chinese identity and culture. It not only reflects the Chinese world view, but also has the potential to give expression to religious concepts, retell legends or convey social criticism. The repeated use of certain standard forms and allusions also means the pictures can be interpreted in a variety of ways.

It should come as no surprise, then, that achieving the most faithful possible rendering of an object has never been one of traditional Chinese painting's aims. The all-powerful dictates of tradition on the one hand and the radical societal upheavals and increasing influence of the West on the other brought about a crisis in Chinese painting at the turn of the last century. But in spite of its once bleak outlook, Chinese painting has shown itself capable of giving rise to a new spurt of creativity, as the 14 works in the temporary exhibition in the gallery of modern Chinese painting variously illustrate. In the selection of works featured here, the literary landscape, portrayed along classic lines, appears among with other strikingly different works that are near abstract or realist in nature.