What fascinates me most about Chinese painting is the way it combines the highest level of craftsmanship with complete spontaneity in execution. We have all witnessed how a landscape replete with mountains, forests, waterfalls and cottages emerges from the hand of a Chinese painter within just a few minutes, sometimes just a few seconds. The seeming effortlessness in fact presupposes years of dedicated and self-disciplined training.
The moment the Chinese painter sets his brush on a blank sheet of paper, however, he is supposed to put all that he has learnt behind and to reinvent his art in a state of highest spiritual concentration. He is required to focus on the here and now and to follow the momentum of his creative impulse. Hesitation or contrivance is to be avoided, because it would necessarily result in a breakdown of the smooth flow of the brushstroke. For the art appreciator, consistency of the course of lines is the most important criterion for deciding the quality of a Chinese painting and for distinguishing an original from a copy.
Growing up in Hangzhou, home to many of China’s greatest artists since antiquity, I was exposed to masterpieces of Chinese painting since childhood. I have studied various treatises by Chinese and Western scholars to understand the ideals and principles of Chinese painting. Working in the auction business has given me the unique opportunity to study previously unknown works in every detail, to retrace the journey of the lines which is at the same time the spiritual journey of their creator.
Dr. Ling Zhu specialises in Classical, Modern and Contemporary Chinese painting and calligraphy.
Ling graduated from the Free University of Berlin with a MA in History of Art. In her PhD thesis, which she recently completed at the University of the Arts Berlin, she has explored the dynamics of the line and compared their differences in the Classical Chinese and European traditions of painting.
Before joining Lyon & Turnbull, Ling worked in an internationally operating auction house based in Berlin, Germany. Ling is a regular contributor towards China’s leading art magazine Art and Design and has presented talks on art and aesthetics at different European universities. Ling is a fluent speaker of English, German and Chinese.
Chinese Speaking Service