Landscape No. 398

Wang Jiqian (C. C. Wang)
Cheng Shifa Chinese

Not on view

Landscape No. 398 is a meditation on the dry brush mode of the monk-painter Hongren (1610–1664). Wang painted with the brush at a slanted angle but valued brushwork that he described as “round,” or “center-tipped,” meaning that the brush never turned over to create sharp creases or angles. Though Wang’s brush moves in angular formations in this work, close examination reveals that he always kept the tip of the brush centered to avoid what he called “ribbon-like” lines, a violation of the brushwork standards that he considered canonical within the tradition of scholarly landscape painting. 398 is a study in the challenges and contradictions of such brushwork, the interplay of angular form with rounded brushwork. Wang’s brush darts this way and that, following an internal sense of form based on years of study of ancient masterpieces. Though the work he arrives at is largely abstract, its connection to premodern landscape is palpable in its brushwork and sense of composition. The addition of a few buildings, sailboats, and human figures added by Wang’s friend Cheng Shifa (1921–2007), transform the work from an exercise in abstraction into a landscape painting (Fig. 2).

Landscape No. 398, Wang Jiqian (C. C. Wang) (1907–2003), Hanging scroll; ink and colors on paper, China

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