Journey to Tianmu Mountain: Painting and Calligraphy by Lin Haizhong
4 October - 4 November 2014
Hanart TZ Gallery
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Hanart TZ Gallery is delighted to present “Journey to Tianmu Mountain” Painting and Calligraphy by Lin Haizhong with a special opening event to be held at 11 a.m, 4 October 2014 at our Central gallery space. We take the pleasure to invite the renowned Chinese Flute Player, DU Rusong to have the Improvisational Painting in Response to Live Music Performance with the artist to mark the opening.

Lin Haizhong (b. 1968, style names Linquange zhuren [Master of the Forest Spring Pavilion] and Woxiashanren [He Who Reclines in the Mountain Mists] is Professor in the department of Chinese shanshui (landscape) painting at the China Art Academy in Hangzhou. Following his exhibition at the City University of Hong Kong ‘Lin Haizhong: The Chinese Painter’, Hanart TZ Gallery is presenting Lin Haizhong’s new solo exhibition ‘Journey to Tianmu Mountain’ in October 2014.

A specialist in Chinese shanshui painting, for the past thirty years Lin Haizhong has used ink and brush to ‘express the Dao through painting’. He is deeply immersed in the samādhi, (three-fold path) of painting: learning from the ancients, learning from nature and reflecting from within; and through the study of calligraphy, painting and poetry he learns directly from the masters, absorbing the essence of their wisdom. Haizhong loves to sojourn through the natural landscape and to sketch amidst nature, responding to the pure essence of nature’s myriad creations and seeking to tap the innate resources of human culture. His encounters with mountains and water are deeply spiritual and imprinted on his heart and mind. As he journeys through the poetic, picturesque landscape of the Qiantang River valley and the majestic mountain forests, and pauses and responds through painting—for Haizhong, painting in nature is kind of meditation. With his fluid and delicate brushstrokes he creates compositions of great clarity and beauty infused with a kind of ancient ethereal quality, a confluence of elements that forms his unique painting language.

Lin Haizhong is a long-time practitioner of Zen meditation, and his practice has deeply influenced his landscape art. This is particularly evident in the masterful series of works he has created since 2008, such as Wuzi ruixue, Guoqing xueji and Xueshan cansi, which beautifully transmit in landscape form his deep understanding of the qualities of coolness and clarity that personify the spiritual realm of Chan Buddhism. Wuzi ruixueGuoqing xueji and Xueshan cansi. Lin Haizhong also creates lighthearted, playful, smaller works that are part of his daily practice of ‘Chan ink play’, a way of using painting and calligraphy as vehicle towards deeper spiritual cultivation. At the same time, he does not neglect the specialized foundation of landscape painting; rather, he uses the themes and content (neihan) of Chan ink play to develop and enrich his landscape works. Through this method, he has gone beyond the framework of academic painting, dissolving the artificial boundaries between landscape and figures and creating a seamless integration between the two. At the same time he infuses both with the delightful subtleties and allegorical richness that are part of the Chan tradition.

The landscapes Haizhong creates through his ‘Chan inkplay’ can be divided into two categories: Daoist or Chan Buddhist figures amidst the landscape, and pure, majestic landscapes that impart a sense of the clarity and coolness of the Chan spirit. His paintings of sojourners in the mountains include Chan patriarchs, monks, and luohans, Daoist spiritual masters and immortals, and even famous historical figures such as the great learned monks Gaofeng and Zhongfeng. Distinguishing features of Haizhong’s figure painting methodology include his use of the literati line-drawing (baimiao) technique of the great Song-dynasty literati painter Li Gonglin, or the yige (‘beyond rules’) method of Chan painting of the Southern Song to delineate the figures’ contours. But whether Daoist or Chan Buddhist, all of his figures are brimming with literati elegance, as they pause in meditation surrounded by the beauty of landscape and the spirit of Chan. To Haizhong, the landscape of greatest beauty and purity is that in which is situated the ancient and celebrated Fuoguo temple, which inspired in him a desire to paint the image impressed upon his heart. Amongst these works are monumental paintings capturing the grand vistas. It is in particular Haizhong’s paintings of snowy landscapes that most eloquently express the purity, clarity and coolness of the Chan realm. The Buddhist temples in the mountain forests surrounding West Lake, such as Ling Yin, Yong Fu, Tao Guang and Jing Ci, are all places Haizhong has visited in meditation and retreat, finding in each a chance to learn greater wisdom. Even the more distant Guoqing monastery in Mount Tiantai and the Shifengdu temple at Tianmu Mountain have been sources of inspiration for his creativity. Haizhong carries the clarity and insight gained from the masters and monks he encounters on these sojourns within him and into his study and painting studio.

Excerpted from The Sojourner in the Landscape: Lin Haizhong’s ‘Journey to Tianmu Mountain’, Lee Hui-shu

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