Chinese Literati Painting -- Page 8

    Zen painting -- an exceptional tradition

Although it is not along the main lines of our topic, it is important to note one other contributor to the tradition of literati painting -- Buddhism, and specifically Zen.  During the late Song, among the non-professionals who took to painting as a form of self-expression (or, perhaps, no-self-expression) were Zen monks and lay practitioners.  They worked towards a highly reduced form of brush painting -- just as Zen, the Buddhist school which prized nothing but meditation itself, was the most stripped-down form of Buddhism.  The painting below, by a Song painter who went by the pseudonym of Mu-qi, is celebrated as the ulimate in painterly simplicity.  Six persimmons are represented by ink lines and washes so elementary that it would seem like a school kid could have done them (the same type of comment later made of Picasso in the West) -- yet the rendering and placement of the persimmons was an unprecedented artistic innovation.

00muqi_6pers.jpg (32528 bytes)

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