Xie An at East Mountain

Attributed to Lou Guan (active mid-to late 13th century)
Southern Song to Yuan period, late 13th century
Hanging scroll; ink and slight color on silk
69 x 34 3/4 in. (175.3 x 88.3 cm); 1979.123

Artist Comments

Chen Shi-Zheng
It's like an etching, extremely sharp, like metal scratched on a firm base, the mountain, rock, are as if metallic. It's almost like it has this 3D mentality, the objects-painted-trees, rocks emerge from the paper. Look at those trees. Look at those dots. It's almost like embroidery, a textile, not brush strokes-because its intricacy is so strong and precise that it seems almost impossible to be a painting. You see the tension in this period, the late Song to Yuan period-like no fat painter's work, it's boney, strong, vital, composed with a definite edge. And in its layers of transparency, small in the vastness and monumentality of nature are six ethereal people.

Hiroshi Senju
The elderly figure by the falls is depicted as a spirit of landscape herself, seemingly about to disappear into the landscape. The waterfalls symbolize life itself, permeating the entire painting with their spray. The cosmos is represented by the negative space (yohaku) behind the trees. This could be categorized as a portrait of a god as understood by the Eastern mind.