Oldřich Král: Traces of Ink – Chinese Texts on Painting

Various commentaries and texts accompany this publication – the very first Czech translation of classical Chinese texts on ink painting, in which the masters of this art formulated the relevant principles and commented on it during all of the various eras during which it evolved and matured. This resulted in what is an almost two-thousand-year long discourse conducted by Chinese writers and painters, where they searched for words to describe the paintings through which, using ink and brush, they ingeniously shared the history of Chinese lyricism, inspired mainly by Taoism and Chinese Buddhism.

The author and translator of the Czech version of this anthology, which originated over several centuries, is the sinologist Oldřich Král (born in 1930). His work at the National Gallery Oriental Art Collection in Zbraslav during the 1970s and 1980s led to the birth of this anthology.  His translations have been used to accompany paintings and works of calligraphy at various exhibitions more than once, to add depth to their creative Czech interpretation. Some of the texts were first circulated in samizdat form and only later were they formally printed. This is the first time they are published in an organised, comprehensive way, which is vividly reminiscent of a unique historical dialogue that basically consists of one great global painterly experience. The book includes examples of original colour woodcuts from the 17th century Painter’s Manual from the Garden of Mustard Seeds.

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