Memory, Innovation and Collecting: Five Lectures on Issues of Chinese Art: Presenting Dr. Hsinguan Tsao

Referencing Antiquity: Values of Literati Art.

Please note lectures are in Mandarin Chinese. Admission is Free.

Literati painters of the Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties frequently invoked the past to contest political and social issues. Selected paintings by Zhao Mengfu, Ni Zan, Dong Qichang and others show how knowledge and timely use of themes centuries old could evoke searing heartache or steadfast resolve. The criteria of Literati Artists and their works changed throughout the centuries with only one enduring commonality: literati artists always referenced antiquity. They knew past brush strokes, themes and styles were infused with historical significance and they skillfully used and read style as expressions of self on politics. Furthermore, Literati Artists drew heavily from past styles as a strategy to justify innovative daring and bold styles.

In a series of five lectures, Dr. Tsao Hsingyuan explores the continuity of memory, and traces how selected art objects and paintings of China from the Neolithic period to the 20th century are records of the past. In the first talk of the series, Art for Eternity: Ritual and Mortuary Offerings, Dr. Tsao reveals how massive bronze vessels and small portable jade pieces testify to a sense of extended time. In Painting the Paragons: Figurative Painting of the Han and Tang, tomb art and scrolls from the Han to Tang dynasties show how personal and legendary tales were models for emulation. Referencing Antiquity: Values of Literati Art outlines how Literati Art theory, through promoting the use of the past, pushes painting to breathtaking compositions and styles. Innovation in Continuity: Creativity and Tradition discusses how the values of Literati Painting have endured and manifested in art of the 20th century. In the final lecture, Private Passions: Collecting and Collections, selections from prominent collections of books, paintings and calligraphy in Vancouver will be featured in a discussion on the impact of art collections on cultural landscapes.

DR. TSAO HSINGYUAN received her M.A. degrees from the Central Academy of Art in Beijing and the University of California Berkeley, and her Ph.D from Stanford University. She currently teaches Chinese art at UBC in the Department of Art History, Visual art & Theory.