Guest Author of February 2010
Following David Clarke’s essay on visual culture in Macao, our text for February’s Monthly Guest Author column offers a different look on how tradition is reflected in visual and performative productions in contemporary China. Ding Ning, professor and vice dean at the School of Arts at the Peking University, has been associated with the GAM project since his participation in the Summer Seminar 2009. While he has published extensively on the history and the psychological and philosophical aspects of both Chinese and Western art, he has chosen a seemingly different topic for his text: the opening festivities of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. This widely broadcasted spectacle as a means of regional representation would have been unthinkable without references to traditional Chinese culture, but as Ding Ning analyzes on the basis of several key elements, these references have been virtually re-written: the objects, narratives and genres retrieved from China’s cultural history in a nearly archaeological manner have been, in a second step, adapted to contemporary media and aesthetics – an endeavor that, in a sense, demanded to transcend notions of authenticity and cliché in order to produce a “Chinese” event understandable – and enjoyable – for both the worldwide and the local audience. As Ding Ning phrases himself, „traditional elements from ancient arts […] suddenly became modern“; modernity thus being the idea of radically subverting tradition – and still becoming its legitimate successor.
Suddenly Modern: Traditional Chinese Aesthetics in Transformation at the Opening Ceremony of Beijing 2008 Olympics
What the Opening Ceremony of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games could provide was the largest ‘stage’ in the world for only one night. It was the first impression China presented to the whole world and a touching memory to be kept in the mind of those who watched the ceremony both with their own eyes at the State Stadium of China that has become known as the Bird’s Nest, or was followed by millions on their TV screen at home. This ceremony was/is the big story about China and its relationship with the rest of the world. The ceremony lasted four hours with nearly one hundred thousand viewers who took part. Obviously, this was an unprecedented chance to reach a gargantuan global audience1.
Significantly, the arts, including painting, sculpture, music, dance, drama, design, film and new media, were not only able to reach the unprecedented huge vehicle or platform respectively, but also more or less merge into a visual pageantry and thus create a unique and mega narrative in terms of visual culture. The fairly bold assessment has already been made that some forms of the presentation and their effects might have been classical among those of similar genres. The opening ceremony was not only a large-scale cultural event, but also could be considered a media spectacle deserving further profound exploration. Its influence will show itself more far-reaching in the future2.
For such a big party to attract the attention of the whole world about fifteen thousand artists of different kinds – both Chinese and foreign – got involved and painstakingly rehearsed for perfection in about thirteen months and went through endless modifications or even total failures until the day of the opening ceremony. It is worth noting that the team in charge of planning and directing was of a distinctly international color. Mark Fisher from Britain was responsible for the stage design while Eiko Ishioka from Japan designed the costumes. Chinese living overseas such as Cai Guoqiang, who was in charge of the fireworks, and Sheng Wei, the choreographer, were from the USA, while the composer Chen Qigang resides in France.
Undoubtedly, the whole performance at the opening ceremony filled the modern senses. Particularly the second half featuring contemporary China even became a bit avant-garde. Erstwhile, even in the first half, modern elements were omnipresent due to the large numbers of digital technologies employed. At one point, thousands of large umbrellas were snapped open to reveal the smiling, multicultural faces of children of the global village. Benetton could not have done it better3. Of course, a more pertinent comparison should be made between these umbrellas with smiling faces taken from all over the world and Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s The Umbrellas which was installed in Japan and U.S.A. between 1984-91, while the former are much more expressive and charming. However, one should also not forget that the umbrella is one of China’s ancient inventions, that is to say, showing umbrellas is very Chinese. It goes without saying that all the endeavors for an opening ceremony with colorfully traditional Chinese characteristics showcased the Chinese achievements for the world mostly in a non-verbal way, such as the famous four great inventions: gunpowder, compass, paper making, and moveable type printing. All of them had to be put into a suitable format and reach a grand effect. In fact, they all had the opportunity to be fully displayed. The surprisingly fascinating fireworks were a hymn to the invention of gunpowder, a dancer held a shining compass. The extraordinary huge piece of paper for the landscape painting was perhaps the largest Chinese painting in the world, and became an excellent embodiment of its cultural functions while the group dance of large movable Chinese characters amplified the splendor in a dazzling way.
Much deeper concerns of culture focused on how the cultural significance of Chinese Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism should be manifested in the ceremony, and more specifically, how their innermost universal values and enchanted appeal were to be conveyed in a visual extravaganza in order to make people further understand how inclusive the Chinese culture could be. The emphasis on the character, he, meaning harmony, within the huge phalanx of Zheng He’s Expeditions and the Silk Road reflected the persistence of Confucian philosophy and practical ideals. A very impressive scenery was created when hundreds of young people in ancient garments held bamboo slips, The Analects, chanting “Isn’t it a great pleasure to greet friends from afar?”, the most famous quotation of Confucius. The reenactment of the tremendous scenes where Confucius teaches three thousand disciples makes the ostensive legend all the more believable. On the one hand, the scene of tutoring three thousand disciples is well recorded in the ancient literatures, such as the historical records of the Qin and Han Dynasty. On the other hand, Confucius’s famous saying “Isn’t it a great pleasure to greet friends from afar?” indeed fit well into the phrases of welcome for the Olympic Games in Beijing; the elegant and beautiful flying fairies were smart borrowings from the Buddhist iconography and appeared as if they were angels sent down from heaven, bringing in the auspicious signs and celestial blessings. As for the Taoist glamour, the mega landscape ‘scroll’ and the concept of yin and yang conveyed in the taiji Boxing performance given by a large number of people, are two good examples. When the multiple elements in traditional Chinese art are elaborately used, the pleasant surprises come from the brand-new and diversified aesthetic touches. Just at this point the borders between traditional and the modern, or even the post-modern, are instantly broken down, allowing for a much richer cultural perspective to unravel.
What will be further discussed is the way in which some of the traditional elements from ancient arts in China are used, transformed and amplified, that is to say, how they suddenly became modern.
Fou’s strategyAlmost from the very beginning, all members who planned the performance for the opening ceremony determined to make everything look new and fresh and anything banal, stereotyped, or even only predicable, was to be absolutely avoided. This strategic tendency aimed for a very unusual and unpredictable effect for the opening ceremony. This was a truly risky step to take as this strategy bared the danger of the audience feeling alienated or not being able to respond actively.
China is a country where drums, gu, are popular. Whenever there is a celebration, the appearance of drums makes sense. However, the question arose quite soon whether drums should be used yet again for the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Beijing. The strongest objection to the use of drums came from Zhang Yimou, the general director, who was becoming almost fed up with any drums, perhaps because he once used drums in a bizarre way in his film, Yellow Earth (1984). And more than that, as Zhang knows well, people are just too familiar with drums: from various national games to the 1990 Asian Games in Beijing, countless drums were used!
Thus, fou, a kind of antique drum as well as wine container, emerged and caught the attention of the directors anxious of an alternative. It just so happened that the fou drum was not excavated until 1978. Though it has been dated back to as early as the Spring and Autumn period around 770BC to 476BC, this instrument is not well known outside the professional circle of the archaeological community. That is a possible reason for the fact that the vast majority of Chinese viewers do not recognize the drums that created the exciting atmosphere for the countdown to the Olympic games.
Interestingly, the director initially hesitated to use the fou drum. Despite the unfamiliarity with the instrument and therefore a guaranteed effect of unexpected surprise it has at least two shortcomings: a) the typical fou is actually not suitable to be hit because there is no flat and tight leather skin over the vessel; b) its pronunciation in Chinese will easily provoke the ominous association of negation. Therefore fou did not appear to be a good choice at first. When it was neglected, another ancient cubic-shaped percussion instrument, zhu, was considered. It is said that a Qing dynasty zhu is about 50cm high, and each side 65cm long, with the wooden gavels to give the specific rhythm. It was used for the elegant commencing melodies at the royal court, and presumably was fairly suitable for the use in the opening ceremony. However, the very trouble lay in the fact that zhu is of a funnel shape, and more seriously, there is never a cover on zhu, let alone a leather skin: At the same time, the use of zhu is also no longer limited to the region of China, but is played in some Southeast Asian countries. It might have become a joke around the world if the zhu would have been covered with the leather skin and looked totally strange, and most importantly, it was not something very Chinese. Once again, the attention was concentrated on fou, and it was hoped that after being installed with some modern facilities, this traditional Chinese wine vessel as well as the percussion instrument could enhance a grand atmosphere where people would touch and beat the fou, and chant a welcome line, which has been popular both in ancient and modern times.
The fou used in the opening ceremony is certainly not the real antique but a high-tech instrument. It combines the shape of the ‘bronze fou ’, an item dated to about the 9th century BC and is now kept at the Museum of Hubei Province and some elements concerning the Olympic games. As all the molds for producing the fou were destroyed, the desire to collect it among the public was provoked more intensely4. As a pure object of appreciation, fou instantly became popular and classical.
A great challenge not only lay in the method of combining the ancient shape and decoration of the fou with the Olympic elements and modern technical parts without offering any features which appear out of place, but also in the way to work out a special perusing style, which looked traditional and still refreshing to the audience. Interestingly enough a unique solution was reached: the Chinese ethnic percussion methods were combined with taiji Boxing and even the actions of Shanxi noodle-slicing. Miraculously, the result was a seemingly ancient and actually very high-tech fou. This combined with the unconventional rhythms and gestures of the performers resulted in a totally unexpected atmosphere of welcome and celebration.
Unforgettably, when a celestial light was projected on the Chinese sundial on the inner ring’s big screen around the Bird Nest, a much brighter beam of light thus reached one of the fous on the ground and the unprecedented countdown scene in the history of the Olympic Games came to the surface. During a full three minutes, the LED light of the fous turned off to give a pitch-black darkness first, and then showed two sides of the stadium 60, 50, 40, 30, 20 and 10, and at last for the 10 second countdown. In doing so, the directors for the opening ceremony contributed a new way of counting down and the fou performance in the bright light became more exciting. 2008 performers gained big applause not only within the stadium but also far beyond. Everything looked so traditional, but at the same time, tremendously modern!
Maga ‘guohua’If it could be acknowledged that the adoption of the fou was a rather bold attempt, then, the introduction of the Chinese landscape scroll painting to the opening ceremony and making it a key element throughout the whole event, was even more risky. Rather, it was a total surprise to see a mega ‘guohua’, stretching right across the centre of the stadium. So few people in China would be willing to consider it. The reasons are not difficult to list.
Here, let us say a few words first about Li Xiaoshan’s view in 1985 about the Chinese painting being at a “dead end”5. It is not a very strict and substantial argument, but rather like a subjective vent, as Li is tired of the Chinese painting. Moreover, Li’s outspoken writing attracts quite a few young artists and even critics.
Secondly, Lin Yipeng has a more radical view about the Chinese painting as being wastepaper. His article first appeared in a local newspaper, Service Guide in Nanjing, fuwu daobao, and was not influential at all. But, gradually, this kind of straightforward and stunningly negative commentary on the Chinese painting, guohua, appealed to a lot of strong feedback and thus Lin’s view became a widespread saying. The key point is that though the theory of ‘wastepaper’ is still not a formulation backed up with very academic views and evidence, it is sort of a more desperate attitude toward Chinese painting, which is too difficult to surpass and can only lead to a misreading. So, no wonder that masters of the traditional type like Fu Baoshi and Qi Baishi should be cast into oblivion, and contemporary Chinese paintings, for instance, the so-called New Literati Paintings, are also equated to wastepaper. In short, Chinese painting is no longer significant and comes to an end. It is time to ignore them6.
Thirdly, we examine the seemingly infamous event of Master Wu Guangzhong’s essay, “Brushwork Equals Zero”7. Obviously, Wu enjoys a much higher reputation than both Li Xiaoshan and Lin Yipeng, and he himself is very well versed in art theory and criticism. More importantly, when he says that the brushwork in Chinese painting equals nothing, there is a certain context. However, the title of his essay may indeed possibly mislead readers, and the arguments between Wu and quite a few rather traditional Chinese painters offer a nontraditional image of him. Furthermore, he is not really great in terms of traditional Chinese calligraphy and he does care about exhibiting his calligraphic pieces. In 2006, he held a one-person exhibition and for the first time presented his writing of ‘The brushwork equals zero’, which conveys a strong impact but is entirely too weak in any traditional sense! So, when Wu unconsciously exposes his own weakness in calligraphy, more and more traditional Chinese painters doubt the strength of his knowledge of the Chinese tradition and related techniques.
All these views against the traditional Chinese painting (particularly including the scroll painting), ranging from the very young scholar and painter to the very senior artist and professor, reflect a very negative tendency toward the Chinese cultural tradition in a new period of time. When these views are further elaborated and even more seriously misread, an unprecedented skepticism emerges.
In short, in the 21st century, the cultural value of Chinese painting, at least, in the artists’ circle, has been questioned too many times. However, is this not one of the important reasons why the mega scroll became a hit at the opening ceremony? It is indeed a surprise beyond any expectation even in the eyes of Chinese people. Such kind of cultural paradox deserves much more attention.
The scroll painting is of course very Chinese. Just as Laurence Sickman and Alexander Soper put：
Scrolls of this kind are mounted on a roll and are opened from right to left, flat on a table, the spectator seeing no more than about two feet at a time. The horizontal scroll form is the culmination of Chinese creative genius in painting. It is the only painting form in the world that brings to the art a true progression through time. As the observer progresses through such a scroll, there is a unique element of the theme unfolding and developing in much the same way, and incidentally, with much the same mechanics, as a theme is developed in poetry or in Western music. The composition of these scrolls would be impossible with a fixed vanishing point and one-point perspective. There must be multiple vanishing points, the one fading imperceptibly into the next. It is impossible sympathetically to view a landscape scroll without becoming part of it and entering into the artist’s world of peaks and streams8.
At any rate, the form of the scroll needed to be transformed in order to acquire a totally fresh effect. In fact, those monumental masterpieces like ‘The Scroll of the Upper River at Qingming Festival’, qingming shanghe tu, by the Song Dynasty Zhang Zeduan, and ‘The Scroll of Thousand Miles River and Mountains’, qianli jiangshan tu, by Wang Ximeng of the same dynasty, were created on a rather small scale. The former is 24.8 cm wide, and 528.7 cm long, and the latter, 51.5 cm wide, and 1191.5 cm long. Obviously, this sort of size would be too small to be adopted for a grand event like the opening ceremony.
So, what new features were added to the form of scroll for a spectacle presentation?
1. The largest scale ever possible was considered: A mega scroll was so magically displayed on probably one of the world’s biggest LED screens: 22 meters wide and 147 meters long, right on the central ground of the stadium. When it slowly unfolded, a scale hard for any extant scroll paintings to reach was realized. Of course, the huge paper stretched over 76 meters once put in the centre of the mega scroll.
2. The scroll’s dynamic display: As usual, the painting was a still image. It was not temporal art. However, the LED screen was able to show both the still image and dynamic one. It was perhaps the first time an audience could view such huge still paintings and moving images all at the same time. Indeed, never before, have ceramics, bronze and even tea been displayed this way and attracted such grand attention.
3. The unique background: The figure-and-ground relation within the mega scroll was always changing. For a while, it became a painting, and soon after, a piece of calligraphy. At the same time, performers could get into the figure range. Dances, piano play, and Taiji Boxing happened in this area. So, the relationship between the image and people was multiplied dramatically.
4. The brushwork of modern dance: Here, the modern dance was not a totally independent performance but rather a living brush to create brand-new lines upon the huge paper. Interestingly, the costume for the dancers was black, as if indicating the brush with ink and water, and their body language re-enacted not only the soft and persistent quality of the Chinese brush but also its aesthetic simplicity and richness. Obviously, these modern dancers’ traces on the paper were not exactly marvelous brushwork, but they did bring out the very atmosphere that in the Chinese landscape, the quality of expression is superior to that of representation, this quality that is highly acclaimed in traditional western landscape painting. What the audience saw was perhaps the most direct but extraordinary combination of the traditional scroll painting and modern dance.
5. The emphasis on the temporal nature of the scroll: The scroll painting itself in some degree contained a temporal tendency with lines, for instance, dancing, and characteristics of the depicted object abstracted, but the audience experienced the mega scroll with live music on the spot. Particularly, the fascinating music from the guqing, ancient instrument of China; the visual experience of the mega scroll was therefore so different and intoxicating.
Very inspiringly, the mega scroll, or more exactly, the mega scroll installation at the opening ceremony, went so far in any sense beyond any ready-made categories like so-called ‘New Chinese Painting’, ‘Experimental Water-and-ink Painting’ or ‘Water-and-ink Installation’. Does it belong to a completely new Chinese painting style? Perhaps much more importantly, the image of the mega scroll instantly became a new national icon. It has already been globalized in real time, and can absolutely be listed as the ‘painting’ viewed by the biggest audience in the world! Of course, it is far beyond our experience to think of another better venue than the Bird’s Nest to view this huge painting. Or, can we imagine a more significant venue than our memory?
Spirit of music and dance“All the arts in common”, Walter Pater famously said, are “aspiring towards the principle of music; music being the typical, or ideally consummate art”9. For the very same reason, all the traditional Chinese arts adopted at the opening ceremony should aspire toward “the condition of music”10 as well.
In fact, there are vivid embodiments of the spirit of music and dance in the classical Chinese arts. Significantly, guqing and the dance of flying fairies were chosen for the opening ceremony.
No doubt, guqing can be listed as the most traditional musical instrument in China. At the opening ceremony, the performance of the famous guqing player Mr. Chen Leiji offers a great opportunity for the audience to appreciate and recognize its uniqueness.
This instrument has enjoyed a great reputation of several thousand years, thus nicknamed the ‘living fossil for ancient instruments.’ The instrument carries quite a few symbolic meanings. Its total length is 3.65 Chinese feet，indicating exactly 365 days in a year.
The face of the instrument is of an arc shape, which represents the sky, and, the flat bottom, the earth; thus interpreting the typical Chinese concept of the universe: the sky is round and the earth is flat. There are thirteen mosaic spots on the instrument, referring to twelve months and an intercalary month, the leap month in the Chinese lunar calendar. It is said that the oldest guqing is of five chords, representing respectively the five elements of the Universe, metal, wood, water, fire and soil: the instrument is all-inclusive, so to say. Later, the Shang Dynasty King, Zhouwenwang (circa 1152-1056 BC), ordered one more chord to be added to mourn his deceased son. When Zhouwuwang（?-1043 BC）attacked the tyrant, Zhou, he ordered to add another chord in the hope that it would enhance the warriors’ morale. That is why guqing is also called ‘wenwu instrument with seven chords’. In terms of the style of guqing, there are styles related to the saints like Confucius, Shengnong, and Fuxi; related to the literati poetic flavors like setting sunlight, banana leaves and pearls; and related to emperors like Xiangwang and Luwang. The instrument can play more than 100 overtones, probably the richest instrument with overtones in the world. The scores for the instrument enjoy a long history of more than 1500 years and the notation is unique. Thus, to play these scores is most challenging. The player’s taste and understanding of a specific piece play a subtly important part.
Furthermore, the hidden cultural significances of guqing are interesting to the Chinese for their long history.
Playing guqing can be a special way of appealing to a most friendly communication. That means that if the listener could sense the real intent conveyed by the player, it would be the highest attraction of the music. The famous painting, Elegant Gathering of Scholars, by the Song Dynasty Emperor, Zhao Ji, is an excellent example to evaluate the cultural weight of guqing.
Playing guqing can be a boundless dialogue between a scholar and nature to reach a special mood as Taoism suggests. Playing guqing can be an elegant improvisation to catch what the mind elaborates.
Though guqing possesses a very private nature and is really not so accessible to the public domain without taking away its unique and subtle connotations, it is still significant to see some 300 lady players as at least when any one who is familiar with the traditional guqing senses the appeal for real friendship, and notices that so much has been expressed: a most sincere respect which cannot be put forward in any words! In a sense, no other instrument than guqing can more ideally represent the Chinese people’s strong but implicit feeling. Of course, this time guqing was really not as impressive and popular as the mega scroll, but as this instrument has a very special history at Peking University where I teach, I believe the charm of this ancient instrument will attract more attention in the future11.
As for the dance, the performance based on the iconography of the Dunhuang Mural not only gave the message that China has a very long history of opening itself to the outside world through the famous Silk Road, but also the flying fairies brought in good will and blessings for all people involved at the Games. The solo performance of the classical Chinese dance given by the young actress, Ying Suo, created a climax by stretching her long green sleeves, enacting even more impressively the beautiful fairy. It can be noticed that she danced on a moving piece of paper, and so successfully transformed the iconography of Buddhism. It was particularly interesting because it borrowed something from the plastic arts rather than its own kind. So, transformation happens across different genres.
ConclusionIt should be noted that we have not discussed all the elements of the traditional arts involved at the opening ceremony, such as the auspicious cloud patterns, which appeared in the torch, the earth model, the background for the sacred flame lighter, kites, Chinese opera performance, puppets, and dragon-and-phoenix columns.
Admittedly, not all transformations of the traditional arts could reach an ideal. The opening ceremony of the Olympic Games is always a special attempt, because it is to be backed up with top creative groups and any possible material resources to attract world attention. Thus, relatively speaking, every opening ceremony seems to be a success. Anyway, as for the Beijing opening ceremony, the ruthless fact is that quite a few programs were cancelled or modified many times until the last moment of the event. For instance, the torch lighting would have had a striking scene of Phoenix Nirvana, but it had to be taken away because of technical limitations. Again, the Qin Dynasty terracotta warriors are well known around the world, however they could not manage to be a part of ‘Ancient Rhyme of the Great Qin’, which was once highly promising, but also cancelled at the last minute.
Finally, it is not difficult to notice that transformations happen outside of art itself. The mega scroll is already not the painting. Could such kinds of transformations be realized in itself? Does this suppose to mean that the transformation of traditional art specific to a particular category is still a difficult challenge, and any response to it cannot easily reach a satisfactory outcome?
Douglas Kellner shows an insightful view of the current media culture in saying：
People in the future may look back at this era of media culture with disbelief. Perhaps denizens of an age of interactive technologies will look back at the passive couch potatoes of this era in wonder. Perhaps those able to access information from a wealth of sources from computer databases will be astonished that in this era the vast majority of people depended on television for their prime source of information. Perhaps later generations who have accessible a vast array of significantly different and better cultural texts at their fingertips will be amazed that people actually watched the programs of commercial television, radio, and film during the present era. Perhaps individuals in a future age will be astonished that people watched so much television, saw so many poor films, listened to to so much mediocre music, and read such trashy magazines and books, hour after hour, day after day, year after year12.
However, the evening coverage in Beijing on August 8th, 2008, perhaps should be regarded as an exception, a contemporary classical media event, and meanwhile it will definitely be a long term inspiring source for many artists and critics, particularly those in China.
1 It should be mentioned that, besides those world’s leading media, the British artist, Sarah Morris, directed and produced the 68 minute documentary, “Beijing”, in Beijing during the Olympic Games. It has been shown at Museum Für Moderne Kunst in Frankfurt from May 30 to August 30, 2009, attracting a large number of viewers, and becoming most eye-catching there. About this documentary, see Tom Vanderbilt, “Empty Nest”, in: Artforum International, Dec. 2008, Vol. 47 Issue 4, pp.242-243; Cay Sophie Rabinowitz: “Sarah Morris”, in: Art in America, Dec. 2008, Vol. 96, Issue 11, pp.146-149, and Archer, Michael: “Sarah Morris”, in: Artforum International, May 2009, Vol. 47, Issue 9, p.170.
2 Zhang Yimou, the general director for the whole event has won the ‘Grand Prize for Those Chinese Who Influenced the World’, issued by the Hong Kong Phoenix Satellite TV Station, Beijing Youth Daily and other major media groups of China for his contributions to the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.
3 Jim Yardley, “China’s Leaders Try to Impress and Reassure World”, The New York Times, August 8, 2008.
4 See Chongqing Evening News, March 9, 2009, section 14. The major producer of the instrument for the opening ceremony, Beijing Gesheng Arts and crafts Co., Ltd., has produced 2040 fous, of which 32 as back-ups. Roughly, the cost for making a single fou is more than 4000 RMB yuans. Not all these fous go to auctions after the opening ceremony. In March 2009, 130 fous were donated respectively to 31 provinces and municipalities, and they would be kept permanently by the local governments and museums, and should be displayed to the general public at the proper time. The first auction for the fou was held on August 3, 2009, in Beijing. 1000 fous were sold and the average bid price for a fou was 52447RMB yuans. On the 15th of March, the highest bid price for a fou reached 168000 RMB yuans! Just three days later, that is, March 18, even the slightly broken fou amazingly cost 1293000 RMB yuans after the opening ceremony. See also Beijing Youth Daily, March 16, 2009, p. B4, and March 19, 2009, p. B6.
5 Li Xiaoshan, “My Commentary on the Chinese Painting”, in: Jiangsu Pictorial, July, 1985.
6 Li Yipeng, “On Wastepaper”, in: Chinese Painter, No. 6, 2001.
7 Wu Guangzhong’s essay, “Brushwork Equals Zero”, is no more than one thousand words. It was published in Hong Kong in 1992 and only a few people took notice of it. See his book, Wu Guangzhou on Art, People Fine Arts Publishing House, 1995, p 266.
8 Laurence Sickman and Alexander Soper, The Art and Architecture of China, Penguin Books, 1971, p. 211.
9 Walter Pater, The Renaissance: Studies in Art and Poetry, edited and with an introduction by Adam Philips, Oxford University Press, 1986, p 86.
11 The famous musician, Wang Xinkui (1878-1921), recommended by Zhang Taiyan (1869-1936) and formally invited by President Cai Yuanpei (1868-1940) to teach guqing at Peking University in the year 1919, thus guqin created a precedent of teaching guqing at colleges and universities. Moreover, the name of guqing was used at Peking University for the first time. Before that, it was called ‘qing’.
12 Douglas Kellner, Media Culture: Cultural studies, identity and politics between the modern and the postmodern, Routledge, 1995, p. 333.