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Beijing, East and West

ArchivePosted by Frederico Penteado Thu, January 05, 2012 07:38:46
Second excursion to the National Art Museum of China, on my last day in Beijing.
There is some exceptional art work there: again, what is most evident is the mastery of drawing. In fact it could be said that traditionally the Chinese have no painting: it is all drawing, even when there is colour. This brings back the discussion of the differences between painting and drawing. Painting is staining and smearing, there are no lines, nothing contains shapes, everything is contiguous, endless. In drawing everything is contained, shaped, the world is outlined. In this sense drawing is closer to sculpture than it is to painting.
Most interestingly the difference between western and eastern art lies here. In the exhibition halls where the more traditional painters were displayed there it was: the excellence of drawing. Moving on to the contemporary artists halls, heavily influenced by western art, and it all becomes painting: layers of colour, a contiguous mass of hues, no lines, no containing.
The difference between the art traditions, western and eastern, was never so obvious for me as it was today: the west paints, the east draws.

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