Art is an expression of culture, which explains why it varies from region to region. Just take a look at the art from the East and the West, and you’ll note many differences between both. Right from the techniques, materials used to the artistic expression – it’s all starkly different. Along with these technical aspects, the history and philosophy of the regions, too, are differentiating aspects between the art of these two parts of the world. The Chinese and Western art are classic examples to prove the evident differences in art, its composition, medium of expression, perspectives, and even the tone.
Chinese art is more inclined towards the landscape and scenery genre, whereas the westerners, since the very beginning, focused on developing accuracy. The different culture prevalent in these geographical regions during the early development of art explains these differences.
Chinese art was highly influenced by Buddhism and Taoism and was more into finding eternal expressions in art. Western art, on the other hand, was derived from Christian philosophy. It won’t take much to notice how this art accurately replicated the nature of God. Gradually, both art forms developed and evolved in their own ways. This period of transition marked the cultural exchange of techniques and ideas as well.
A Brief Introduction to Chinese Art
Traditional Chinese artists dipped brushes in pigment and painted on paper or silk. Once their piece of art had dried, they’d then hang these beautiful paintings or keep them as scrolls. These paintings were also used on walls, porcelain, and lacquer-ware – just like the paintings of John Dodelande.
From the Han to the Tang dynasties, Chinese artists created resplendent and unique works of art that depicted the royal lifestyle of emperors. The artists then shifted to landscape painting, which dominated Chinese art. The art was greatly affected by Buddhism and Confucianism, demonstrating the harmonious relationship between humans and nature. This also explains why the Chinese artists focused more on personal feelings and emotions when painting landscapes.
Now that we know what Chinese art has evolved, let’s also understand the differences between Chinese and Western art:
Fixed vs. Dynamic Perspectives
Chinese art was more expressive, with a fresh, dynamic perspective. This gave viewers a dynamic perspective, adding a sense of movement to the static works of art. The western counterparts, on the other hand, had a fixed approach toward art, exhibiting realism through their art. The artists almost always created paintings that resembled real images.
Representational vs. Expressive Art
Chinese art always offered a fresh, unique, imaginative, and expressive perspective of nature. This is because the art revoked the Taoist principle of living in harmony with nature. Western art took an opposite take, making their art more real – which explains why their paintings look more natural, like a photographic impression.
Minimalism vs. Shading
Traditional Chinese artists painted with swift brushstrokes, which gave their paintings a minimalist look. The Westerners, on the other hand, heavily relied on technical brushstrokes, which added depth to their art, giving a shaded texture to their paintings.
Chinese art differs a lot, as compared to art from the West. The underlying philosophy is what makes both these art forms different. Only a keen, experienced eye – like John Dodelande – can help identify and understand these differences in a better way.