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Laying Out a Composition

“Bu ju” is a traditional term in Chinese painting. It refers to the concept of image composition, which is also used in literature. The focus of this exhibition is to show how the artists played with devices such as foreshortening, multiple perspectives and formats to create personal spaces in mountain landscapes.

Wang Yuanqi (1642 – 1715), Herbstberge, China, Qing-Dynastie (1644 – 1911), datiert 1703, Fächerblatt
Wang Yuanqi (1642 – 1715), Herbstberge, China, Qing-Dynastie (1644 – 1911), datiert 1703, Fächerblatt © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Museum für Asiatische Kunst / Jürgen Liepe

In Chinese painting, the painters often layout a composition not with the focus on realism, as in European painting. One reason is that the painter depicts a place or a subject as he or she feels it, not as he or she sees it. Composing a Chinese ink painting needs precise planning since once the brush touches the paper, the ink gets absorbed immediately and corrections are then no longer possible.

This temporary presentation of the Museum für Asiatische Kunst, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin was curated by Birgitta Augustin and is part of the permanent exhibition Ethnological Collections and Asian Art in the Humboldt Forum.
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