Analysis Of Han Gan's Six Laws Of Painting

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Chinese painting has been the major art form within Chinese tradition throughout centuries. Their paintings distinguish themselves from other art forms from different countries by their use of ink to emphasize motion and bring liveliness into a two-dimensional piece. In order to understand the old and ancient practices of Chinese painting, one must look towards Xie He’s Six Laws (or Methods) of Painting. In a demonstration of He’s six methods, Han Gan’s Night Shining White (short handscroll, ink on paper, early 8th century) not only is able to capture the physical representation of his subject but also the spiritual energy as well.

Most famous of the Tang dynasty for capturing the visualness and spirituality of horses was Han Gan (Hearn). The handscroll Night Shining White is a portrait of one of the Tang emperor Minghuang’s favorite horses; a fiery-tempered horse remaining in a freeze while being held back by a post. The animal’s spirit shines through by Gan’s illustration of flared nostrils, wide-opened eyes with a tint of red ink, and taken-back posture. A myriad of seals and inscriptions, which are marks of ownership, flood both sides of the scene, leaving the horse to be left surrounded alone in an alarming position. The work has been interpreted as an emblem of Chinese military strength, suggested by the horse’s overall look and the title of the work. However, undertones of poignancy are present due to the emperor’s desire of a concubine which led to his dethronement

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