Asian Pacific Art Institute of America




AMY RAYMOND                 



Mu Jiashan has been a successful artist both in terms of his artistic accomplishments and his leadership abilities.  Both of these talents come instinctually to him, but he is most diligent and dedicated to his art.  Mu began painting in Jiangsu Province where he was born in 1961.  Jiangsu is a place with deep ties to traditional Chinese culture and nature.


The great masters of Chinese art, both contemporary and historically, often chose subject matter in terms of themes.  The artist may choose to paint a landscape in the style of an ancient master, mimicking a famous style of rendering mountainsides, and then showing off talents in figurative painting.  A Chinese painting maven will be able to dabble with some success in the whole of Chinese painting - landscape, figurative, bird and flower and calligraphy.  The cumulative body of Mu Jiashan’s work would have him reflecting the Chinese tradition of artistic virtuoso.


That being said, the theme in which Mu Jiashan is most able to show off his personal style is with landscape painting.  Mu Jiashan’s landscapes are contemporary contributions to the interpretive, rhythmic qualities of the Chinese landscape tradition, which date back to the Tang Dynasty.  This beloved tradition is focused on the artist providing us with their reflections of nature.  While we are not arguing that the social motivations of Chinese artists were the same as the surrealists of the 20th Century, the naiveté or poetic quality to the Chinese landscape evoke the usage of the term “surrealism” in that we are looking into memoryscapes.


Works such as “Secluded Valley” are a mastery of the surreal Chinese landscape with perfectly windy, fish netted-lakes and mysteriously bare willows decorating the horizon line.  Furthering the effect, low lying clouds and motifs evoke mystery.  This lovely painting was featured on the cover of the volume of Zhong Guo Dang Dai Yi Shu Jia Hua Ku << Treasures of Contemporary Chinese Paintings>>  dedicated to Mu Jiashan’s paintings and published in Beijing in 1995.


Chinese artists trump realism for composition in their landscapes, furthering the surrealist mood found in Chinese art.  Another work in the same volume above, “Long Long Years, Peaceful Mountains and Rives” is landscape stuffed with traditional dry-brush rock formations surrounded by mountains and lakes rendered with graphic design elements versus naturalistic details.  The bare willows and fish net shrouded lakes also lend to the landscape as dreamscape.  With mountain mass, threatening weather patterns and a tale rendered in calligraphy the artist evokes the beauty and power of nature.


A final work included here, “Clear Autumn” we again see Mu following beautifully in the great tradition of scroll painting.  This format is intended to take the viewer through an elegant composition of fore, middle and backgrounds tied together by a wandering path.  It is a Chinese landscape theme that offers the artist the opportunity to show their skills in all three areas.  The composition is a good example of the joyousness that Mu Jiashan puts into his landscape painting.  Mu is also showing a great comfort with the Chinese brush, using full dark lines for trees and rock formations.


Mu Jiashan came to live in the United States in 1995.  In the past year he has made a voyage to the Grand Canyon, Yosemite and Yellowstone National Parks, the home of some of the most famous mountain scenery in the United States.  Mu made sketches of the scenery, working with an ink pen.  In this new work Mu shows a tremendous comfort with the mountain masses, a waterfall and the alpine trees.  The painting speaks to the simplicity of Chinese ink and pen depictions of nature, the composition is carefully balanced.  The realism in this work, however, is much more distinctive.  We may be convinced that we can trace the mountains as they recede into the background as a very logical depiction of the terrain.


The endless possibilities of landscape are the inheritance of a Chinese artist.  Mu will continue to have a joyful time putting his skills and history to continued good use.



Leading Contemporary Masters December 10,2006

Review Articles about APAIA and Mu Jiashan