the essence of Chinese painting

Chinese Art Theory: At regular intervals, I try to analyze various aspects of Chinese painting, its philosophy, concepts, techniques, etc. on the basis of short contributions. 

The author studied Chinese painting and art history, lived in China for 5 years, studied at the Central Academy of Fine Arts, and wrote his dissertation on Chinese free-hand style painting (写意画 xieyi-hua).

Zhu Da 朱耷 painting 花鸟册页之二

Lecture I

The Principle Of The Balance In Chinese Painting

The fundamental difference between many Chinese and Western paintings lies in the different image structures. To put it simply, it works like a western scale in western painting and like a Chinese scale in Chinese……..

painting by Qi Baishi

Lecture II

CHINESE CABBAGE AND PEPPERS. Analyzing A Simple Painting By Qi Baishi 齐白石

Since Qi Baishi, the Chinese cabbage gained a high status in painting. Because cabbage is a healthy vegetable, Qi Baishi especially loved it. There are many anecdotes about Qi Baishi’s exchange of cabbage pictures for real cabbage……..

sketch by Pan Tianshou

Lecture III


Pan Tianshou was the great intellectual of the last century in China. One of his greatest achievements was the establishment of the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, where Pan Tianshou first attempted to teach Chinese painting…….

han dynasty seal

Lecture IV


Chinese painting is closely related to the art of seal cutting and, of course, above all to calligraphy. These 3 genres have not only mutually fertilized each other over the centuries, but even more, none of them can be viewed in isolation if you want to understand them more deeply……

friedrich zettl on Chinese TV

Lecture V

CALLIGRAPHY FOR TV (No Lecture Actually).

Just a short sequence showing me writing a couplet for Chinese New Year and talking a little about my life and years in China.

landscape painting by Huang Binhong 黄宾虹

Lecture VI


If you learn traditional Chinese painting, it is extremely important – from the Chinese point of view – to copy old masters. As I think so too I accepted the challenge and the work were well received……

Zha Shibiao album leaf

Lecture VII

ZHA SHIBIAO: A Simple Picture And Yet A Treasure.

Today we want to dedicate ourselves to a small album sheet by the artist Zha Shibiao. It is one of the images that is seldom found in publications, one that looks very simple at first glance and only shows its charm and mastery when we take some time for a closer look and reflection…….

6 Persimmons by Mi Qi

Lecture VIII

Six Persimmons By Mu Qi.

Each of us probably knows this picture, at least we saw it more or less consciously. Some Japanese art historians believe that it is the most important image of mankind…..

Lecture IX


The term nothing, void ( xū) plays an important part in Chinese (Asian) art, and in the following, I would like to try to touch on at least some aspects and try to get to the bottom of its meaning. Since this is not possible in one article, there will be another post published later.

Nothing in Daoism, in Chan Buddhism, as well as in Chinese painting is a central concept and of the utmost importance…..

dot against water detail

Lecture X

What A Dot Can Do

In a sense, a dot is a (very short) stroke. So what applies to the line also applies to the dot. A very important aspect of this is to fill this point with meaning – otherwise, it’s just a meaningless blob……

chinese painting of a cat

Lecture XI

Cats In Chinese Painting

Let’s play a little game again: Let’s imagine there is a competition with 3 cats at the start. The “best” cat should be chosen. Which would get your vote: 1, 2, or 3?…..

coming soon image

stay tuned

In addition to the blog posts on art, topic-specific art theory articles appear here at irregular intervals.

For many years the author has been giving lectures on Chinese art or writing articles about it or speaking at symposia on China.

The lectures usually take place at oe.g.c.f. The articles are mostly found in the Chinareport, which has been published for decades and is published by Professor Gerd Kaminski.

The author’s book contributions can usually be found in books that have been published by BACOPA Verlag.

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