Chinese Landscape Paintings; Symbolism of Opposite

Chinese landscapes painting is commonly seen consisting of mountains and water. Yet, with its simplicity and minimal use of subject, color and medium, it is able to create a harmonious and peaceful viewing. One of the aspects to achieve this balanced result, is by applying the black-and-white yin-yang symbol. Also know as representation of ‘symbolism of opposite’.

The symbolism of opposite clearly seen in the contrast of black ink on white paper in calligraphy and brush painting. The Chinese named this theorem as BaGua or “eight symbols” system reflecting the dualistic philosophy of ‘yin’ and ‘yang’, dated back in 10th century BCE. This system has been adopted by the Chinese culture and believes, even till the modern days in China.

Some of the landscape painting gives a clear-cut, articulated, rugged strokes that conveyed a strong, server form and definite designs; leaving little rooms for your imagination. Colors are bold, such as, blue, green and gold for the landscape paintings. This precise techniques produced beautiful and detailed decorative artwork.

On the contrary, Chinese paintings can be painted in faded color, mainly using ink and water, with light coloring. Their strokes were softer, more graceful, and suggestive. Theses landscape paintings were more poetic and imaginative. Water washes on the existing brush strokes of ink will produced softer and subtle effect.

Yang is the positive, masculine principle, associated with heaven, light, boldness, hardness. Yin is the negative, feminine principle, associated with earth, darkness, weakness, and softness.

In painting, the artist’s tools are either yin or yang. The strokes on the paper go right and left; a strong and dark stroke is yang, while a soft and pale stroke is yin. Thus, creating a balance systems of

Lake is separated from water,as mountain is separated from earth, showing the special significant of mountains and lakes or rivers. These are the primary elements of Chinese landscape paintings, hence the Chinese character for landscapes, Shan Shui (山水). Literary means, mountain() and water().