Nowadays, people who use fine strokes and apply strong colors think of themselves as a painting master.However, they don’t know that the ancient style is lost and all kinds of defects appear. My paintings seem to be simple, but people who understand know that my paintings have ancient styles, and think my paintings are good.
Zhao Mengfu (1254-1322) was born in the imperial clan of the Song Dynasty and served as a small official in the Southern Song Dynasty in his early years. After the establishment of the Yuan Dynasty, he was well received by the ruling class and was appointed the Duke of Wei. With this special status and favorable living environment, he was able to be active in the top cultural circle, which gave full display to his artistic talent.Among the best in the painting circle of the Yuan Dynasty, Zhao Mengfu was good at painting landscapes, figures, flowers and birds, horses, beasts, bamboos and rocks. He put forward the theory of ancient style, the most important painting theory in the Yuan Dynasty, namely, paintings should have an ancient style, without which, the painting is not good. He was a talented all-round painter.
From the perspective of painting history, it is difficult to describe Zhao Mengfu's paintings in one style. His paintings can illustrate ancient classics, break the limitations and barriers of styles, explore new aesthetics, and connect the past, the present and the future. Just like the ancient style in Xie Youyu on a Hill, the fusion of the Song style and Yuan style in Autumn in Huabuzhu Mountain and Que Mountain, the combination of calligraphy and painting in Shapely Stones and Sparse Bamboos, each of his paintings is a wonderful fusion of ancient styles and new meanings in practice, opening up new ideas for later painters and new directions for the development of Chinese paintings.
The ninth lecture of “Open Book for Arts” will be held on Saturday afternoon, September 12, 2020. Professor Shao Zejiong of Shanghai Normal University will be invited to the Heart Hall of Pearl Art Museum. He will mainly focus on the appreciation of Xie Youyu on a Hill by Zhao Mengfu, share with the audience the inner spirit and the essence of paintings contained in art theories such as "paintings should have ancient styles", "use brushes to express distant longing", and analyze the aesthetic standards of paintings in the Yuan Dynasty.
He graduated from the Chinese Painting Department of Fine Arts School of Shanghai University and was an associate editor of Shanghai Paintings and Calligraphy Publishing House. He is a member of the Chinese Painting Art Committee of the Shanghai Artists Association, director of the Shanghai Calligraphers Association and a member of the Education Exchange Committee. His publications include The Collection of Guanfu: Volume by Shao Zejiong, Landscape, and The collection of Calling the Wind. His works are collected in China Art Museum, Liu Haisu Art Museum, Suzhou Art Museum, Nanjing Academy of Paintings and Calligraphy, British Library, etc.
1、The Taoist priest in the Crystal Palace VS Monk in the Agate Temple
Zhao Mengfu is erudite, talented, quick-minded, and good at arguing. He once had a personal seal carved with "Taoist priest in the Crystal Palace", which is his alias. Zhou Mi, a friend of his, secretly had a seal carved with "Monk in the Agate Temple" to follow suit. Zhao Mengfu felt very angry that his ideas had been copied, and decided not to use that seal again. Later, Cui Jinzhi, a fellow-townsman of Zhou Mi’s, opened a pharmacy in Dadu, with a plaque hung in front of the door titled "Pharmacy of Healthcare Master". After Zhao Mengfu saw it, he argued "Doctor of Dare-to-die Corps". Cui Jinzhi immediately removed the plaque.
After talking about Zhao Mengfu's temper, let's talk about his attitude towards calligraphy—serious.Zhao Mengfu was hardworking at learning calligraphy when he was a teenager. Before he went to the capital, he could write superb Zhong Yao's regular script in small characters. After taking up the government employment, he often regretted that he could not work as hard as previous calligraphers due to frequent travelling. In fact, Zhao Mengfu often took a lot of time to copy ancient works tirelessly. He was very particular about models and believed that it was best to copy authentic works from the Jin and Tang Dynasties. If he could not obtain authentic works, he would at least get a first-class copy. In the epilogue to Wang Xian's Nanny, he wrote: "If a person want to learn calligraphy, he must have this."