Rethinking Modernity in Modern East Asia Art

Title: 1370 | Rethinking Modernity in Modern East Asia Art
Area: Northeast Asia
Stream: Art/Art History
Presentation Type: Panel Presentation
Shu-Chin Wang, Fong-Guang University, Taiwan (organizer, chair, presenter)
Yu-Jen Liu, National Palace Museum, Taiwan (presenter)
Motoyuki Kure, Curator of Chinese Paintings, Kyoto National Museum, Japan (presenter)
Liya Fan, Academia Sinica, Taiwan (presenter)


As far as modernity and its relation with art in East Asia is concerned, Western influence has been playing a key role. With increasingly fruitful research put forth, particularly with more attention paid to the art exchange between North-Eastern countries and to an Oriental modernity, the diversity of modern East Asia Art has been brought into light. This panel hence intends to re-examine the seemingly cliché modernity in East Asia art through different lenses in the following five papers. Landscape in the Republican Mountain-and-Water Paintings deliberates the contemporaneity in seemingly conservative ink paintings in the early 20th century.
The “Lang Shining Legacy” and Pursuit of Modernity in the Early Twentieth-Century Writings of Chinese Painting History considers the way we look into the past Western icon in a modern era. Kosugi Hoan’s Modernity: Examining His Adoration for Chinese Paintings examines the modernity in the paintings of Kosugi Hoan through his application of classical literati taste. Reconstructing the Style of Literati Painting: the Paintings of Chinese Artists Wang Yemei and Hu Tiemei, Who Came to Japan in the Early Meiji Period, and Taki Sei-ichi and The Kokka: Promoting Chinese Painting to Western Connoisseurs, both of which transcend borders in discussing the translating and circulating of East Asia Art in modern China and Japan. In addition to demonstrating the latest discoveries as a result of the presenters’ constant endeavor, the goal of this panel is to explore the faces of modernity in East Asia art. By blurring the boundaries between genders, styles, stances and nations, this panel is empowered to beam a new light on a multi-layered modernity in which the interaction between each other might be more vibrant than first imaged.

Panel Abstracts:
Landscape in the Mountain-and-Water Paintings: The Contemporaneity in the Northern Painting School in the 1920s China
This paper is intended to explore the hinted contemporaneity and modernity under the seemingly traditional works of the Northern Painting School—also called Jingjin (京 津) Painting School, via a highlight on the leading painter Jin Cheng (金城 1878-1926 ), and via the elaboration of the terms fengjinghua (風景畫 landscape painting) and shanshuihua (山水畫 mountain-and-water painting) circulating in the visual circumstance in the 1920s. First, through an investigation into the print media, this paper will discuss how these two terms— ‘landscape painting’ and ‘mountain-and-water painting’—were defined and perceived in the rhetorical context in China in the 1910s and 1920s, and by which, to argue the changes in the perception and practice of the mountain-and-waterpainting in response to the large-scale transplant of Western art knowledge. Second, this paper intends to bring to light the manifestation of Western photography in Jin Cheng’s later portfolio. By underscoring the modern effect in the mountain-and-water paintings of these so-called conservative painters that was achieved by their implicit knowledge of Western art practices, by easier access to picture records in new media, by their participation in Sino-Japanese art exchanges, and by their interest in the opening of the National Palace Museum and modern exhibitions, this paper aims to reflect the innovation, open-mindness and contemporaneity in the Republican traditional ink paintings.

The "Lang Shining Legacy" and Pursuit of Modernity in the Early Twentieth-Century Writings of Chinese Painting History
After more than 50 years’ service at the Qing court (1715-1766), the Italian painter Giuseppe Castiglione (1688-1766), known in Chinese as ‘Lang Shining’, has left an indelible imprint on the visual environment of the imperial palaces. His painting styles were followed by many even after the end of the Qing empire. If his lasting impact should guarantee him a place in Chinese art history, how to write this foreign painter into the development of the painting traditions of China must have been a difficult task for Chinese art historians in the early twentieth century who strove to compose a survey history of art framed in terms of nation states. This paper aims to explore the re/presentation of the ‘Lang Shining legacy’ in the art historical writings in the early twentieth century and examines the ways in which an ‘essentially Chinese’ tradition of painting was distinguished against ‘the Western’ by the mention of Castiglione’s name. By referencing to the contemporary field of painting production where Castiglione’s style continued to play a part, this paper assesses the ‘Lang Shining legacy’ in the early twentieth century on both levels of discourse and practice against the backdrop of China’s aspiration of being modern.

Reconstructing the Style of Literati Painting: the Paintings of Chinese Artists Wang Yemei and Hu Tiemei, Who Came to Japan in the Early Meiji Period
In the middle of 19th century Japan when Sino-Japanese cultural exchange was limited, many artists were eager to learn the brand-new trend of Chinese art. It was one century before when Zhejiang painter Shen Nanpin (沈南蘋, 1682-?) was invited by Tokugawa Shogunate to stay in Nagasaki, and produced lots of realistic birds-and-flowers paintings, the legacy of which for Japanese painters is called “Nanpin School”. It would be once considered as China’s last impact on the art history of Japan. However, Wang Yemei (王冶梅1831-?) and Hu Tiemei (胡鉄梅1848-1899) who came to Japan in the 1870’s could be considered those who kept the legacy and impact alive. They were both Jiangsu entrepreneurs, also painters who had refuged Japan during the turmoil of Taiping Rebellion, and had opportunities to sell their paintings to Japanese collectors. In Japan at that time, they were admired as the masters of literati style landscape painting, and they also had published their text books in collaboration with Japanese artists. This paper focuses on the artworks of Wang Yemei and Hu Tiemei in Japan, how to make relationship with Japanese artists to reconstruct the style of literati painting. It also tries to debate the authenticity of criticism for literati painting as anti-modernism by Ernest Fenollosa (1853-1908).

Taki Sei-ichi and The KokkaPromoting Chinese Painting to Western Connoisseurs
This paper explores how Taki Sei-ichi 瀧精一 (1878-1945), a Japanese art historian and the chief editor of The Kokka 《国華》, played a dominant role in shaping Western scholars’ views of Chinese art at the beginning of the 20th century.Following the abdication of the last Qing emperor in 1912, parts of the imperial art collection, which had been concealed behind the walls of the Forbidden City and at various imperial residences for centuries, were revealed to the outside world for the first time. Of the many fine paintings that were disposed of following the collapse of the dynasty that circulated in the international art market, some found their way to Japan and the West. Through Kokka, Taki played a key role in cultural transmission by introducing this new group of Chinese paintings to Japanese and Western connoisseurs. In this paper I highlight Taki’s English literary activities between 1910 and 1912 through a critical reading of his essays about Chinese landscape painting, and analyze how these articles had tremendous influence on the Western art scholars’ views and connoisseurship of Chinese art at the time

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