East Asian Ink-and-Wash Painting


Refers to the long-standing East Asian brush painting practice involving carbon-based black ink applied to paper or silk, the same materials also used for calligraphy. In China, the practice first emerged under the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD), though ink-making processes date back to 2500 BC. The essential formal element in ink-and-wash paintings is the line, rendered with varying thicknesses and types of stroke, and according to countless different techniques. Ink-and-wash painting has tended towards naturalism and expressiveness at different times in its long history, though landscapes, animals, and flora have been a consistent subject matter. Although the Cultural Revolution (1966-76) mandated the adoption of Socialist Realism, artists in subsequent generations have returned to ink-and-wash painting as a means both of exploring cultural heritage and depicting modern life.