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Treasures of the Chinese Scholar’s Studio

August 14, 2015 - August 14, 2015

Curated by Barry Till | Founders Gallery

One of the most interesting features of traditional Chinese culture is the people’s love of and reverence for of all things related to art and literature, especially the various paraphernalia and materials associated with the scholar’s studio. The typical scholar’s studio of the past would have been strewn with such articles as inkstones, inksticks, brushes, paper, seals or chops, brush rests, brush containers, wrist rests, paper weights, teapots, wine cups, incense burners, miniature screens to prevent a draught from drying the ink in the inkstone, and antiques of all sorts from archaeological artefacts to wonderful copies of antiques. All of the accessories on the scholar’s desk were for practical use, the most important being the essentials: brush, ink and inkstone, and paper, known as the “Four Treasures.”

The scholars or literati (wenren) were from the educated and privileged elite. They were the chief arbiters of refined and sophisticated tastes. As officials, scholars, poets, calligraphers, painters and connoisseurs, they came to define the finest aesthetics and styles of the nation. Painting, as an offshoot of calligraphy, is an integral part of Chinese civilization, and together with calligraphy are considered by the Chinese to be their only “true” art. The Art Gallery has an extremely fine collection of Chinese works of art which fit into the category of treasures for the scholar’s studio, including a recent donation of nearly 20 important ancient inkstones.

This exhibition sponsored by the Gallery Associates of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria.

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