Bada Shanren (Born Zhu Da) is arguably one of the most influential Chinese artists as he was a radical innovator for his time. From childhood the artist was seen as a child prodigy, painting and writing poetry from an early age and in later life combining the two in his work. Due to his status as a royal descendant of the Ming dynasty the dynasty’s upheaval led him to seek refuge in monastic Buddhist life at 18. After 40 years he decided to pursue becoming an artist and worked under the pseudonym Bada Shanren which means Mountain Man of the Eight Greats. The reason for this name is because the characters resemble the Chinese characters for laugh and cry as a veiled reference to his anguish at what was happening in his country and grief for his forced isolation. Bada Shanren was very much a character, reportedly screaming and making strange sounds as he painted. The artist follows a long tradition of Buddhist art which is used for meditative purposes, encouraging the viewer to become spiritually reflective. However, despite his work’s traditional purpose he was very much ahead of his time utilising abstraction to a degree unseen before.
Birds and Ducks
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