The essay "Hills beyond a river by Ni Zan" discovers the artwork by Ni Zan. Ni Zan earned the designation as one of the four masters of the Yuan dynasty along with Huang Gongwang, Wang Meng, and Wu Zhen because of his dedication on his art work and being active as a painter despite witnessing the transformation of his country into another form of government. Although he was born in an elite family in Jiangsu province, Southeast of China, he did not take advantage of their wealth to be schooled instead he spent more time in poetry recitals and paintings. Ni Zan who is also known as Yuan Zhen refused to join in any political and military activities in the government and to serve under the leadership of Zhang Shicheng who commanded Suzhou during those times. It was also this time that scholars were discouraged to participate in any affairs in the court but instead embark in “self cultivation” practice. Although, Yuan dynasty under the ruling of a Mongol leader, Kublai Khan caused division of the Mongols and the imperial dynasty of China that resulted in disorganization within the government and social instability, the government did not strip the artists of their freedom to express their mind through their work. With this situation, Ni Zan went on travelling in the Southern part of China which is more peaceful at that time with his family during the fading years of the Yuan dynasty. When in the South, however famine struck in the region where Ni Zan lives which eventually lead the peasants to revolt. The reaction of Ni Zan with the situation is to leave the region and decided to give up his possessions including his paintings to his friends. He opted to live onto a houseboat he believes could give him the solitude he craves. His art works earned enough for their living as it was highly valued. It is believed that the elements and how he organized his paintings are all influenced by his contemporaries and on the situation he was in. When one looks at the landscape painting “Hills beyond a river”, the first element he can appreciate are the trees because they were sketched to appear closer to the viewer. The viewer can see ordinary trees of different heights at the center firmly standing in a small mass of land that is slightly elevated from the pool of water below. The trees are observed to be a little scattered at the middle of the small island within the center of the painting. Further, it is obvious that the trees do not have much foliage but only enough to let the trees thrive for quite some time. The trees also look like they are drying especially the small one at the right side because it has no leaves at all. One cannot see other trees on either at the background or on the hills on the side. The visual acuity moves down to the basement of the painting where you can find a pool of water that looks like a river or a bigger lake steadily in place. Although, the elements used are nature, it is impossible to glimpse figure of animals or other form of life in the area. In between the small hills is a silent stream flowing by. Small stones can be seen to where the stream flows to meet with the bigger pool of water below. Small shrubs or plants are discernible on the small mass of hills on both the right side and left side from where the trees stand. On the
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The essay analyzes the painting by Ni Zan. “Hills beyond a river” is a landscape painting by Ni Zan after 1345. It is a composition depicting a classical example of the Yiian. This hanging scroll is inscribed and signed by Wang Meng on the top right and on the top left are Ni Zan and Yu He…
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