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Brush up on the past

Updated: 2024-01-27 10:06 ( China Daily )
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A painting from Huang Binhong's Flowers Album.[Photo provided to China Daily]

Inheritance and reform

Huang was noted for his full understanding of the core of Chinese painting. He once said that "one would not be accomplished (in painting) if one didn't learn from the prominent artists of history".

He is particularly known for his expertise in the art of the Song Dynasty (960-1279), a time when Chinese painting reached a peak in terms of technique and artistry. He said that Song painters found a balance between figurative depictions and the delivery of temperament, mood and emptiness, and that he looked to present the same harmonious feeling in his landscape paintings, layering ink in a heavy, dense way to convey a sense of weight and dignity.

But Huang was not one to stick to the rigid conventions of Chinese painting. He had no intention of staying in his studio and simply repeating what his predecessors painted.

He spared no effort in making breakthroughs and traveled extensively around the country to draw inspiration from its varied landscapes. He was a loyal follower of Shitao, a revolutionary painter of the 17th century, who once said that a painter should "view all the awe-inspiring landscapes, and let their feelings and imaginations draw (from them)".

Huang himself once said that "a painter should learn from his contemporaries and also those who lived in ancient times; and what is more important than learning from our predecessors is learning from nature".

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