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A Semiotic Study of Chinese Landscape Painting

作者:Duan Lian  来源:  浏览量:313    2016-09-02 18:27:07

 Abstract: The aim of this essay is to redefine Chinese landscape painting within the framework of existing definitions of landscape painting in Western discourse on art. Accordingly, the author applies Ferdinand de Saussure’s concept of the sign system and signification process to the study of Chinese landscape painting. Based on a close reading of the earliest landscape painting in Chinese art history, the author discusses the Saussurean theory of an arbitrary relationship between signifier and signified, and argues that in Chinese landscape painting this relationship is non-arbitrary because the strategies used for visual representation relate to the pictographic and ideographic qualities of Chinese writing script. The author addresses the first classical theoretical text on landscape art in Chinese aesthetics, and demonstrates that Chinese landscape painting is not a mere representation of beautiful scenery, but a metaphysical approach to the Tao, the “Way” toward eternality in nature.

Keywords: landscape painting, Saussurean sign, Tao, arbitrariness, non-arbitrariness

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