The Endless Landscape: Handscrolls in Chinese Art

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    Traditionally Attributed to Ma Fen (12th century). 'The Hundred Geese,' China, Southern Song (1127-1279)-Yuan dynasty (1271-1368), 13th century. Handscroll; ink on paper Gift of Mrs. Charles M. Cooke, 1927. Honolulu Museum of Art. (2121)

January 24, 2013 - May 19, 2013
Honolulu Museum of Art

Exhibition Overview

Chinese Gallery

Over 2,000 years, a number of unique painting formats developed in China that were radically different than the oil paintings on framed rectangular canvases that eventually became standard in Europe. At its most basic level, European painting was an art form for public display, hung on a wall, occupying and visible from an entire room. While similar paintings are also found in Chinese art, other formats, in particular, handscrolls, were intended for more intimate viewing by a small number of acquaintances.

By their very nature, handscrolls could not be publically displayed for long periods of time; they were unrolled for a single viewing, in itself often a rare and special event, and then rolled back up and stored until the next viewing. Handscrolls were also not meant to be seen all at once; as each section was opened, the previous section was closed, much like walking through a landscape where, once passed, one scene disappears from view as a new scene opens, offering new surprises around every corner.

This exhibition presents four of the finest Chinese handscrolls from the museum’s collection, including The Hundred Geese, one of the most evocative examples of the late imperial academic style from the 13th century.