James Cahill on Ch’an Painting, 1: Liang Kai


In 2010 Professor Emeritus James Cahill, one of the leading and most eminent historians of Japanese and Chinese art, made a series of films, entitled A Pure and Remote View, examining the development of Chinese painting from its beginnings up and to the middle ages.

The series of 12 lectures, often split into 2, 3 or 4 parts consists of 24 videos of varying lengths (from 30 mins to 2 hours) looking in a close way at some of the best Chinese paintings and examining them from various angles.

The whole lecture series is around 35 hours, and more than can be included here, though for those with an interest it is well worth watching it complete, but over the next few weeks I will include some of the later lectures devoted to Ch’an (Zen) painting.

The first one tonight, although it starts a little slowly, is one of the most fascinating, looking at the work of Liang Kai, who started as an academician but eventually left the court to live in Ch’an monastaries and temples.

Some of the best known of the Chinese paintings come from his hand, and we get long and detailed guides to the paintings which open them up and make us appreciate the fine artistry involved even more.


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