As 191 - Chinese Art and Aesthetics

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Chinese art and aesthethics

Text of As 191 - Chinese Art and Aesthetics

  • Borlaza, Raisa Victoria H. 14 October 2015

    BS Arch, 2012 24662 Art Studies 191 Lauzon

    Chinese Aesthetics

    Beauty in the Chinese sense was dependent on two philosophies: Daoism and Confucianism. These two

    perspectives served as the guiding principle into what beauty was, how art can be depict. However, overtime, these

    two beliefs became more than just a guide, but as a stepping stone into widening the typical, traditional Chinese


    Chinese aesthetics had its origins from two distinct themes in Chinese history: the alternation of medium

    used in arts and the shifts from the philosophical ideas pertaining to the arts. One aesthetic theory that developed in

    China was based on rituals and music. Chinese art forms are based from ancestral works. They take great respect in

    their elders, making sure that their art style lives on. A skilled artist was measured based on his ability to replicate

    and copy their ancestors art form, as stated in the Six Laws of Painting by Xie He. In terms of 3D art, sculptures of

    various materials and pottery were all in accordance to ancestral worship, a means of ensuring that the dead live on

    in the afterlife. There is also a sense of harmony and balance in Chinese art forms, similar to their concept of

    duality--- of yin and yang. Music was a way of integrating harmony through the use of words and melodies. Theatre

    arts became an art form in China as it depicted the reaction of audiences towards a certain Chinese art work. They

    were no longer restricted to art that was inanimate, but could delve into an art that was dynamic and interactive

    through music and drama.

    We see how strict and rigid the early forms of Chinese art was, resulting into Chinese aesthetics that was

    utilitarian or moralistic. There was always this need to unify and correlate. The Chinese saw life as a cycle, a

    balance with nature. Their perception of beauty was based on this order, balance, and symmetry. This need for order

    relates to Confucius beliefs, which again is a basis for Chinese art form. Because of how closely aesthetics was

    connected to beliefs, it somehow became a measure for a well-lived life.

    Influence from Buddhism also influence Chinese aesthetics, as it now started to become a matter of taste.

    Along with Confucianism and Daoism, the integration of Buddhism in art and religion resulted into a new sense of

    aesthetics--- one that focused less on pleasing the ancestors, but more on self-expression and personal depiction.

    Therefore, aesthetics were seen as in forms of spheres or worlds, where it could be without passion or interest, but

    also with feelings and emotions.

    Upon the coming of Western influence, the concept of aesthetics was formally established in China.

    Standards for these aesthetics came in the form of nature and art as a manifestation of culture. Still, these aesthetics

    had its roots planted on either Daoism or Confucianism or a modification of the two.

    Landscape painting was the central art form that depicted Chinese aesthetics. This type of painting is seen

    as beautiful because of how it conformed to the Six Laws of Painting. These six laws were based on Taoist beliefs

    of nature and tranquillity. Daoism thus became a tool in helping create aesthetics taste. Mountains and rockeries

    were seen as a symbol of continuity. Similar to African aesthetics, this related to age over beauty, where

    something that matures or continues for a long period of time is beauty.

    Later on, paintings were accompanied by poetry. Paintings were seen as a depiction of not only of nature in

    its most real and natural form, but also in its experiential sense. Aesthetics then evolved into a matter of taste. What

    was important was the viewers response to the painting. Early forms of drama and theatre arts in Chinese culture

    flourished because of how the scripts were based on the audiences response. In paintings, this encouraged

    calligraphy and poetic appreciation; it allowed for proper discourse.

    Art completes culture, as quoted by Zhang Yan Yuan. The perception of aesthetics is therefore influenced

    by art and culture. Beauty is dependent on a cultures beliefs and ethics. What is special about Chinese aesthetics is

    how it remained somehow pure, or how it did not mediate away from traditional Chinese art and beauty even with

    Western influence. The Chinese were still open to foreign influence, such as Buddhism, but gave great value in what

    their own perception of beauty was, even thinking of culture and art as a substitute for education and religion. It

    came to a point were appreciation of beauty meant that the past had to serve the present, and the foreign influences

    had to serve China. This strong background of ancestral heritage and respect, as well as Confucius and Taoist

    beliefs, defined and strengthened the Chinese notion of beauty.