“Bu bai” is a traditional Chinese calligraphy term. It refers to the concept of arranging the white background in relation to the black ink strokes.
This method applies on three levels: a single character, a column or group of characters, and the entire layout. In Chinese philosophy the black and white, or solid and void areas, are two complementary forces, interlocking and interdependent – like yin and yang.
Bu bai is also an irreplaceable form of expression in Chinese painting, which has employed calligraphic brushwork since at least the Song dynasty (960–1279). This is especially the case in paintings of orchids, rocks and bamboo, but also landscapes.
This temporary presentation of the Museum für Asiatische Kunst, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin was curated by Birgitta Augustin and is part of the permanent exhibition “Ethnological Collections and Asian Art”in the Humboldt Forum.
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