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Four Inside-Painting Genres
Artistic Features
Beijing Genre:
simple, unsophisticated and honest, with elegant colors;
Hebei Genre: profound meanings, combing painting and calligraphy;
Shandong Genre: bold and generous, drawn by fluent lines;
Guangdong Genre: nobly decorated, with bright colors

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Shandong Genre

Shandong genre painters mainly reside in Boshan, Shandong, it began development after its artist Bi Jiurong returned from Beijing to Bishan at the 16th Guangxv Year (1890) in Qing dynasty. The most typical feature of Shandong genre is that glazes used for ceramics can be used to paint on the inside wall of snuff bottles and later form ceramic glaze painting of inside-painted snuff bottles after baked and this paint will not be impaired even in water. The representative of Shandong genre inside painting is Bi Jiurong and the modern master is Mr.
Li Kechang.

Originated from Qing dynasty, inside painting is a unique art of China, it uses specialized pens to reversely paint inside snuff bottles. Generated from Shandong, modern inside painting mainly consists of three main genres including Beijing, Shandong and Hebei genres. In 1958, Xue Jingwan, the Shandong genre inside painting master introduced brush pen into inside painting and broke the traditional situation where inside painting taking bamboo stick pen as painting tools. In around 1966, Li Kechang took the painting method by brush pen to Beijing and later, brush pen, the elegant and variegated brush replaced the traditional painting tool bamboo stick and gradually prevailed in inside painting around China and the pigment range was widened too and another totally different modern inside painting formed. Born in a traditional Chinese medicine family in Zibo, Shandong province, Li Kechang was crazy about painting and literature since young even his father wished him to “succeed family career”, he started learning to paint landscapes and figures under guide of the nephew of Mr. Bi Jiurong, the founder of Shandong genre inside painting and later came to Colored Glaze Association in Zibo and took Xue Jingwan as teacher to study inside painting after Li understood the charm of inside painting. In 1989, thanks to its excellent inside painting skills, Li was selected as the director of the Snuff Bottle Institute of China Arts and Crafts Association. And when he immigrated to Australia in 1996, his works got cultural recognition rapidly by local people. Qi Liren, the president of the 1st International Snuff Bottle Association has once praised Li as No.1 master of Shandong genre inside painting.

Guangdong genre:

Inside painting enjoys another name as “Taojiang Inside Painting” and Guangdong genre inside painting created by Wu Songling, an old artist at the late Cultural Revolution. Guangdong genre snuff bottles, light and graceful, decorated in the bottle body with patterns outlined in gold, is resplendent and magnificent, enjoying unique style.

Beijing Genre
Firstly generated in Qianlong Years in Qing dynasty and many outstanding inside painting masters such as Ma Shaoxuan, Sun Xingwu and Ye Zhongsan and his sons who were skilled in portraits and tens of masters skilled in landscapes, birds and flowers, such as Zhou Leyuan, Ding Erzhong and Zi Yizi, etc appeared then. Modern representative of Beijing genre is Liu Shouben, and Beijing genre inside painting keeps the traditional skills and styles of “Ye genre”, using bamboo and willow hook as pens and is with simple and honest painting styles, powerful, elegant and colorful, with mellow and plump colors.

Hebei Genre
The founder Wang Xisan is the 1st non-family name disciple of Mr. Ye Xiaofeng and Mr. Ye Fengqi, the sons of Beijing genre artist Mr. Ye Zhongsan. At the end of 1950s, after perfectly mastered the inside painting skills of “Ye genre”, Wang Xisan introduced cat into snuff bottles, using delicate strokes “tear hair”, Wang painted the bright cat eyes and the hairy cat and solved the problem in Chinese traditional painting where cats were painted rigid and unrealistic. Wang also created the special tool, the metal hook pen of Hebei genre inside painting, namely, the “Xisan bended hook pen”, the penholder is direct and bended at the same time and can change direction freely. Bob Stevens, the foreign experts, has once said “the cat painted by Wang is so vivid that it will come down immediately from the bottle”. In 1966, during the “Sweep away for Olds” in the Cultural Revolution, Wang was dispatched to his hometown Fucheng county of Hebei province to “get reformed”. Located in this unfavorable situation, Wang insisted on pursuing artistic improvement with his strong will although through thick and thin. He picked up his hook pen to start inside painting again as an avocation in Yangzhuang village in Fucheng county, and accepted apprentices for four times in order to set strong basis for Hebei genre inside painting and he offered them all he known and trained tens of inside painting freshmen and made Hebei genre inside painting “the most powerful in modern times” painting genre. Currently, Hebei genre inside painting is leading the inside painting industry from any of the following aspects including artistic style, craftsmanship, varieties, professional painters, marketing and social influences. Subjects of Hebei genre inside painting mainly focuses on figures and portraits, and Children at Play and Hundred Babies can perfectly show the artistic features of Hebei genre inside-painted snuff bottle. The style of Hebei genre inside painting can be summarized as: profound meaning, highly-structured, rich line drawing skills, harmony and mellow colors, combination of painting and calligraphy, suiting both refined and popular tastes. There are three innovations in painting tools, painting skills and painting styles: metal hook pen, grease paint inside-painting, snuff bottle series. At present, Hebei genre inside painting is leading the inside painting industry from any of the following aspects including artistic style, craftsmanship, varieties, professional painters, marketing and social influences.

Besides succeeding the simple, honest and elegant Ye genre painting and blending in the fine, smooth and fluent Shandong genre painting, Hebei genre introduced skills of Chinese national painting, including Cun (the method of showing the shades and texture of rocks and mountains by light ink strokes in traditional Chinese landscape painting), Ca (spreading), dying, spotting, sketching and tearing into inside painting. Using Cun while paint clothes tissues, using Ca while dealing with excessive color, using dying while paint natural color of clothes and using tearing while paint cat hairs. Tactfully use fast, slow, light, heavy, lifting, pressing, turning, fluent and mellow brush movement, the interaction of these skills shows the craftsmanship of Chinese traditional painting most incisively. Before 1980s, Chinese traditional painting dominated in inside-painted snuff bottles. Its pursuit for “beautiful poetic conception” and its focus on “set meaning before start painting, showing some idea in the completed painting and demonstrating idea with tangible painting” is entirely different with Western oil painting, especially in portrait painting. How to make inside painting in snuff bottles more vivid turns to be a new task for Hebei genre inside painting on its further development. In 1981, Hebei genre inside painting tried to use grease glaze for portrait painting, expecting to achieve the solemn, dark and vivid effect from oil painting, but this test finally failed because the snuff bottle could not absorb grease, thus the original inside painting pen is not applicable in Cun and dying of grease glaze. After repeatedly tests and fixing agents were managed to be used and then the grease glaze inside painting skills are detected and mastered and the single watercolor painting situation is broken, the image, form and spirit of inside painting all rise to a new height and this innovation is considered to be a creativity of “Sino-Western Combination”.

 

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