This exhibition, drawn primarily from the College’s own collection, examines the strong influence of nature on traditional Chinese painting. Winter Reflections: Chinese Painting and Calligraphy, presents examples from the past three centuries showing the powerful effect seasons had on artists. Both the paintings and the poems that often accompany them illustrate delicate responses to nature’s nuances. The majority of these works are done in subtle grays and delicate somber colors found within the winter landscape. Many are accompanied by poems within their compositions conveying an introspective mood resulting from snow, cold and days of meager light.
These paintings were donated by Dr. Irving Stuart in memory of his wife, Helen Stuart. Originally from New York, where Dr. Stuart taught at Hunter College, the couple re-located to Monterey County on their retirement. Ms. Joan Lam, guest curator, undertook the difficult task of dating and translating the inscriptions on the paintings. Each clearly reflects the Chinese appreciation of fine line, careful brushwork and delicate color. Ms. Lam has included numerous calligraphy scrolls to emphasize that to the Chinese art lover there is little distinction between painting and calligraphy; each is a clear record of the well-trained hand and clear eye of the artist
The traditional tools of the Chinese artist have been assembled as well for this exhibition; brushes, inkstones, water containers and scholar stones (Lingbi). These stones were highly valued elements of the scholar/painters. They represent, in miniature, the vast and dramatic mountains that are so characteristic and prominent in many of these scrolls. Visitors were invited to try their own hand at using a traditional brush using plain water on “magic paper” which faithfully records each stroke, yet when it dries is blank once more.