the Three Perfections

2011 May 5

The "Three Perfections" -painting, poetry & calligraphy – embody the highest visual, philosophic & aesthetic ideals of Chinese art. Of these, however, calligraphy is the most esteemed in that it combines the intellectual & moral dimensions of content with the emotive & visual qualities of painting. Calligraphy expresses both meaning, in the written character & spirit, in the flourish of the brush & ink, while together, the Three Perfections capture the spirit of nature & its forces. I an 11th-century text on painting, Huashanshui Lu ["treatise on painting"], a young painter asks an old sage, "What is likeness & what is truth?" The sage replies, "Likeness can be obtained by shapes without spirit, but when truth is obtained, both spirit through ornamental beauty will make dead things".

Back to home