Long Museum West Bund
|Organizer||Long Museum West Bund|
Ever since ancient times, Chinese literati have always been oscillating between three dichotomies: Confucianism vs. Taoism, social ministry vs. spiritual ministry, and social improvement vs. self-refinement. As is discussed in the Analects, when there is a conflict between the ideal and the real, reclusion becomes the most popular choice among traditional Chinese literati - they pursue the Taoist philosophy of wuwei (“nonaction” or “effortless action”) and benzhen (“authenticity” or “naturalness” ) to maintain their independent personality and spiritual freedom.
Fishermen in lakes and rivers, literati in mountains and thatched cottages - such reclusive motifs have long been depicted in traditional Chinese art. In The Peach Blossom Spring, a fable written by Jin-dynasty poet, Tao Yuanming, a fisherman entered the hermitage of pre-Qin descendants, where the pools are tranquil, fields are soothing—it is a paradise without wars. Later artists were inspired by The Peach Blossom Spring and embraced this fable into their artistic motifs. These works are either categorized as Taoyuan (“the peach blossom spring”) paintings or denote an ideal paradise, in which Taoist philosophy and the motif of spiritual ministry are elaborated. After the middle and late Ming dynasty, the popularity of the Taoyuan painting increased—as is represented by Wen Zhengming, the Wu School painters seek the best representation of the Taoyuan motif in their artistic introspection. Gradually, the landscape of Jiangnan became integrated into the Taoyuan motif - the landscape of Jiangnan is transcended to a representation of the ideal Taoyuan by various artists. During the Ming and Qing dynasties, artists tend to embrace more earthly elements with the reclusive motifs, through which we can see that while pursuing their spiritual freedom, these artists were shifting to an earthlier approach to art.3-This exhibition consists of more than 30 works by both ancient and contemporary artists, ranging from old masters like Zhao Mengfu of the Yuan dynasty to modern and contemporary artists like Pu Ru.
This exhibition is divided into four parts: the Small boat and Cottages, the Taoyuan and Paradise, the Hometown Jiangnan, and the Present Self. Through the scope of ancient motifs including the fisherman, the thatched cottage, and the peach blossom spring, we hope to bring our audience back to the hermitage of ancient Chinese literati, and then return to our present reality, led by the charming Jiangnan landscape.