Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Story of Chinese freehand painting

In an old Chinese legend, an artist named Zhang Seng You 張僧繇 was asked to paint a mural in a temple. He painted several dragons but left out the pupils from their eyes. The Abbot asked him why. Zhang explained that if he painted the pupils, the dragons would come alive. When the Abbot insisted, Zhang proceeded to paint the dragons’ eyes. As soon as he finished the pupils on one of the dragons, it roared to life and flew away in a thunderous flash of lightning. This story embodies the philosophy of Chinese freehand painting. The goal is not simply to reproduce the appearance of the subject, but to capture its soul.

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