Height: 30.500 cm
Length: 257.500 cm
Asia OA 1990.6-29.01 Add.530
Landscape by Zhu Xiuli, a handscroll painting
China, 20th century AD
In this handscroll, Zhu Xiuli (born 1938) reinterprets tradition with his twentieth-century version of a traditional landscape. The various elements are organized and controlled, with movement provided by the lines of trees flowing through the scroll. Zhu's painting is fresh and his use of colour washes accomplished.
Paintings in China are not usually hung on walls, permanently on display. They are often mounted as handscrolls, rolled up and only brought out for special viewings. This is partly due to the delicate nature of the ink and colour, which would fade if left exposed to light for a long time. The unrolling of a scroll is an act of some ceremony. Connoisseurs do not view the painting from a distance, as in the West, but approach close to 'read the painting'.
Handscrolls are designed to be unrolled, from right to left, revealing one scene at a time. As each new section is unrolled, the previous scene is rolled up, giving the viewer the feeling of a journey through the landscape.
S. Jenyns, Chinese art: the minor arts, vol. 2 (London, 1965)