Throughout history many painting practices have emerged. Among these styles is one characteristic to Chinese art, called “Native painting”. Most of these paintings display nature or scenery, take the “mountains and rivers” style for example—these show beautiful mountains and rivers. This style of painting usually includes calligraphy, detailed brushwork, or watercolor/ink techniques. The paintings of scenery emerged in the Five Dynasties Period, and continued to be popular in the Northern Song Period. I like the paintings from this era, especially “One Thousand Li of Rivers and Mountains” painted by Wang Ximeng.
The meaning of this painting’s name is a lot of rivers and mountains—one glance makes obvious that rivers and mountains are everywhere in the painting. The painting is on silk; the silk cloth is almost 12 meters long. This gives people the impression of the length of the river, as their eyes travel this way and that along the paining following the course of the river. This painting is a good example of native painting, take the painted mountains for example, they display the watercolor technique.
I know, for paintings in general, many are indeed intricate and beautiful; however, in terms of content, One Thousand Li of Rivers and Mountains appears very simple. But One Thousand Li of Rivers and Mountains hasn’t even one carelessly painted stroke, making it seem perfect; moreover, the content of the painting shows that it is in the end not simple. For example, the colors used are against people’s expectations; it seems that he used the color of water for the mountains and the color of mountains for the water. This strange use of colors makes people consider that the painting may have a deeper meaning.
A few years ago, I had the opportunity to see the beautiful Lijiang river scenery with my own eyes. I took a cruise from Guilin to Yangshuo, and it left a lifelong impression on me: Wang Ximeng’s use of blue-painted mountains serves to emphasize the mysterious beauty of the mountains, making me feel as if I were standing at the foot of those foggy mountains. You could also say that Wang Ximeng’s painting’s feelling is almost the same as the feelling of the scenery. It’s apparent that Wang Ximeng used the feeling of the scenery to paint more authentically. I really like this painting.