Learning from the Literati 1
September 9th, 2010 - October 31st, 2010
No contemporary artist’s studio is complete without a traditional tea set – with the arrival of guests signaling the beginning of an elaborate ritual of heating water, dumping out the first round of tea through the grates of the tea board, steeping, sipping, draining, whiffing, praising the quality of the tea and beginning the cycle again.
Traditional culture often holds an esteemed position in the minds of many artists, and the epitome of that culture is the literati painter. As early as the Han Dynasty, these men defined themselves from the court painters by bringing a sense of personal expression into their depictions of the landscape – they were renaissance men well versed in law, poetry, calligraphy and philosophies such as Daoism and Confucianism.
Many played roles as leaders and moral arbiters in their communities, but in general they are known for their hermit-like behavior – their tendency to turn away from the evils of society and head to the mountains where they would lose themselves in thought and art.
In “Learning from the Literati,” eight artists examine what it means to be a literati painter and explore the legacy of the literati in contemporary society.