Lei Liu


This practice-led research project appraises the tradition of shanshuihua, or ‘mountain-water painting’, within broader traditions of Chinese ink painting, or shuimohua, and, through links with ancient Chinese philosophies, considers its continuing relevance to contemporary painting, and modern ecological themes, both in China and beyond. The research initially assesses historical connections between ink painting and the fundamental philosophies of Chinese history and culture, namely Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism, and maps certain connections to the development of shanshuihua. Through a series of interviews with contemporary Chinese artists, the project investigates whether the influence of these philosophic traditions have a continuing significance to strands of contemporary art referencing landscape, or nature. The project also reports on the parallel evolution of the scroll in China, and how hanging scroll painting articulates the development of ink painting. The practical research, underpinned by historical and contemporary contextual study, employs strategies both reverential and subversive to explore the formal significance of the scroll, the relevance of ancient Chinese philosophy to contemporary painting and, in an extensive, experimental body of paintings and associated studies, explores whether ink painting remains relevant in an age of ecological concern.

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