Accessible Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton November 10, 2018

Semiosphere and Solitary World

A semiotic study of Chinese landscape painting

Lian Duan
From the journal Chinese Semiotic Studies

Abstract

Literati landscape painting was the mainstream of Chinese art in the Yuan dynasty; its keynote is the idea of yi, literally, escaping for freedom, which is represented by the notion of reclusiveness at the conceptual level and the notion of spontaneity at the formal level. Based on an analytical interpretation of the development of Yuan literati landscape painting at the two levels, this essay intends to make a point that, under the Mongol rule, reclusiveness and spontaneity became the artistic pursuit of Chinese artists in the period from late 13th to late 14th century. Employing Yuri Lotman’s theory of “semiosphere” in this study, I argue that the blueprint for the solitary world is designed by the early Yuan literati artist Zhao Mengfu, and this world is constructed by the later Yuan literati artists Huang Gongwang and Ni Zan, among others. I further describe the structure of this world as having two levels and three concentric circles, with reclusiveness as the signified central idea and spontaneous brushwork as its signifier. I then conclude that the interaction of the reclusive idea and spontaneous style semioticizes the structure, and completes the construction of the unique artistic world of Yuan literati landscape painting.

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Published Online: 2018-11-10
Published in Print: 2018-11-27

© 2018 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston