(“national painting”), a term that appeared at the beginning of the 20th century to designate modern Chinese watercolor painting on silk and paper scrolls, in distinction from oil and watercolor painting.
Art was in a state of decline in China in the late 19th and early 20th century. (It was alienated from life and consisted mainly of the repetition of dry canonical designs.) Kuohua revived the traditions of the national painting of the third and second centuries B.C., which had its own technical features, individual styles, and a specific method of depicting objects by means of lines and spots against a neutral background that created a feeling of limitless space. The first masters of kuohua (the painters Jen Po-nien, Wu Ch’ang-shih, and Ch’en Shih-tseng) sought to enrich the traditional methods by addressing themselves to nature. Thereafter, the development of national painting pursued two paths: first, the application of kuohua methods to the traditional manner of execution, as seen in the work of Ch’i Pai-shih, P’an T’ien-shou, and Li K ’O-jan; and second, the merger of kuohua principles with the achievements of European painting (geometric perspective, light and shade modeling, intense psychologism, and an abiding interest in man), as exemplified in the works of Hsü Pei-hung and Chiang Chao-ho. Between 1940 and 1950, kuohua painting became more varied in subject matter. Lyric and genre compositions on modern themes appeared. However, seeking to reflect the realities of a new life, many painters are limiting themselves to a mechanical introduction of modern motifs into traditionally executed landscapes.
REFERENCENikolaeva, N. “O natsional’noi traditsii v sovremennoi kitaiskoi zhivopisi gokhua.” In the collection Khudozhestvennye napra-vleniia v sovremennom zarubezhnom iskusstve. Moscow, 1959. Pages 5–25.
N. S. NIKOLAEVA