Exhibition | The Three Perfections

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on June 5, 2022

Now on view at Mia:

The Three Perfections: Image, Poem, and Calligraphy in Chinese Painting
Minneapolis Institute of Art, 18 December 2021 — 4 December 2022

Zheng Xie (1693–1765), Qing dynasty, Bamboo and Rocks, detail, ca. 1760, 68 x 39 inches, ink on paper (Minneapolis: Mia, gift of Ruth and Bruce Dayton 95.54.2).

Western viewers are often curious about why Chinese artists write on their paintings and what the characters say. This exhibition answers such questions and explores the idea of integrating fine painting, poetry, and calligraphy, known as the ‘Three Perfections’, in a single artwork.

In traditional China, painting was regarded as ‘silent poetry’, and poetry as ‘painting with sound’. Both could only be manifested through the ‘art of handwriting’—calligraphy. Scholars and scholar-artists used calligraphic brushstrokes in their paintings and considered their artworks to be vehicles of self-expression. As a result, painting was not only considered the only art pure and lyrical enough to stand on an equal footing with poetry and contemplative thought, but also something through which one could experience sight, sound, smell, touch, and emotions.


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