Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Dominant Overlook

P1030358 crp luc
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
I spent a recent afternoon at an exhibit of Chinese painting by the four great artists who were born mid-Nineteenth century and lived well into the Twentieth. They are considered to be the outstanding painters of this period and this is the first time a survey of their masterpieces has been seen in the west.
The artists are Wu Changshuo (1844–1927), Qi Bashi (1864–1957), Huang Binhong (1865–1955) and Pan Tianshou (1897–1971.) Only Pan lived to be harassed during the Cultural Revolution.
The picture shows the picture that made the greatest impression on me in this visit; it is titled Dominant Overlook. It is an immense vertical scroll-mounted painting. Two vultures are perched atop a steep cliff above a waterfall. Their sinister expressions suggest that they could stand in for Communist overlords. And indeed this artist died of being beaten and denied medical attention during this upheaval. Faintly seen near the bottom is a chalked inventory mark from the painting's seizure and condemnation.