Ma Yuan

China • 1130−1224

Biography and information

Yuan mA, Qin-Shan [born in the late 12th century — died in the 1st half of the 13th century, Shanxi province], Chinese painter. Worker Academy of art in Hangzhou. A Follower Of Li Tan. The author of the landscapes ("the Lone fisherman on the river in the cold season", national Museum, Tokyo), as well as works made in the genre "flowers-birds" ("plum blossoms, stones, and wild ducks in a mountain stream", the Palace Museum, Beijing). For landscapes M. Y. (monochrome and with the subculture), a deeply embodied the philosophical concept of nature as a single and infinite world, characteristically imbued with restrained excitement of a contemplative mood. M. Y. widely used such new to Chinese painting techniques how the asymmetry of the composition ("landscape shifted in the corner"), sharp, broad strokes ("big axe").

The art of MA Yuan, the highest point in the development of landscape painting of the period of the Empire, the southern song (1127-1279). In his work clearly and fully embodies the specific features not only painting, but in many ways the spiritual culture of medieval China during its heyday.

The artist worked in a time when landscape painting was already a historical journey of several centuries, reaching maturity and perfection. In this sense, the work of MA Yuan and his contemporaries was a result of all preceding history of Chinese landscape. Creative maturity and technical skill allowed MA Yuan with the most complete and easy to Express in art the ideals of his time.

MA yuan lived in the period of turmoil experienced by the country. Wars and raids of nomads ravaged the country, and in 1127 the entire Northern part of China was conquered jurjani. The capital together with the Imperial court and the painting Academy moved South to the city of Lin'an (Hangzhou). As before, the landscape has retained its lead of the genre, but the mood passed in landscape painting, has changed significantly. To replace the majestic, full power mountain landscapes came to lyrical paintings, and at times the chamber content.

In comparison with the masters of previous generations of MA yuan not only possessed a superior wealth of means of expression, but also know more about the world, his aesthetic ideas were thinner and greater. Perfect accuracy of line and silhouette, the ability to construct the composition so that most accurately Express the ideological content of the work — all these qualities make his work a classic of the Chinese medieval landscape.

The art of MA Yuan is largely based on the previous tradition. One of the immediate predecessors of the artist was tan, which may he studied. Besides the huge impact on the formation of picturesque handwriting MA Yuan had a long tradition of several generations of the MA family. Craft skills, therefore, passed from father to son. In particular, the characteristic sharp graphic pattern he inherited from his uncle MA Gunsan. All the artists of the MA family were members of the Academy of painting: the family tradition was continued by MA Lin, son of MA Yuan. However, it is the work of MA Yuan marked his usual one bright individual artistic handwriting.

Information about the life of MA Yuan remained extremely low. It is known that he enjoyed the special favour with the Emperor Ning Tsung (1195 — 1224), which bestowed its highest award for artists of the "Golden zone".

Currently in many world museums and private collections has several tens of pieces, with the signature of MA Yuan or attributed to him. Among them, besides numerous landscapes there are paintings of genre, historical and mythological scenes, as well as work in the genre "flowers-birds". Since, as a rule, all scenes depicted in the landscape, no sharp boundaries between these groups of works.

In contrast to the works of earlier landscape painters MA Yuan marked tendency to such subjects, which can be expressed in lyrical mood, and philosophical reflection of man. Therefore, the most frequent and favorite motif is the person contemplating nature, when nature itself inspires the artist. Mountain peaks, the vast expanse of the lake, the thin branches of the weeping willow, seen at different times of year and day, promote the whole range of emotional experiences. With the exception of the album sheets with the image of waves, of wild ducks swimming under a rock in a quiet backwater, MA Yuan almost no uninhabited landscapes. In some paintings shows the barely visible figure of a lone traveler or busy with his business of a fisherman. On the other is quite large and clearly drawn figures. But unlike many other artists, his contemporaries MA Yuan no sense suppressing the human nature, but rather merge with her spiritual convergence and, as if dissolving in it.

Landscape with human figure contemplating nature, can be called the leitmotif of the creativity of MA Yuan. This image is inspired by a vision of the ideal representative of that time — the poet, the scientist, the philosopher, the meaning of life is to see the beauty of nature is a manifestation of the main laws of the universe, discover the true essence of being.

The state of mental peace and inner concentration of life in the lap of nature sung Chinese poetry as an ideal state since the days of the famous poet of the IV century Tao Yuanming. This ideal was close contemporaries MA Yuan, although the MA yuan was not a painter-hermit, but living in the mountains. But his work was a clear expression of the ideological aspirations of his time.