Vincent van Gogh, Qi Baishi, and H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III Compared. Whose Artwork is the Best?

Vincent van Gogh, Qi Baishi, and H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III Compared. Whose Artwork is the Best?

Author: Lin Jiguang 

Please see below the answer of whose work is the best among Vincent van Gogh, Qi Baishi, and H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III

I have spent more than 60 years of my professional life in the field of painting. During the many decades of practice and experience, I have come to know many famous painters. That is especially the case since I became the Head Consultant for authenticating paintings and calligraphy at the National Museum of China in Beijing. As an appraiser and authentication officer of paintings and calligraphy, the bulk of my work is to verify the authenticity of Eastern and Western paintings. I have reviewed tens of thousands of famous paintings, especially the rare and precious works of the maestro Vincent van Gogh of the Netherlands, and those of the champion of Eastern paintings, Qi Baishi of China.

Both Van Gogh and Qi Baishi were great world-renowned masters in art. One represented the apex of Western art and the other was a master of an extreme class in the field of Eastern paintings. Both artists had drawn from the essence of the classical traditions of their respective cultures. They created new styles of art and new ways of seeing the universe. They broke new grounds and became pioneers of new eras, each becoming a creative guru of his time, developing a distinct style of his own, and leading new trends that inspired later generations. Their works reflect the different essences of Eastern and Western traditions. To what extent can their works influence the artistic civilization of the world? What kind of artistry did they achieve that made them upright monuments in art history and admired by so many people?

Some art critics compared the works of Van Gogh and Qi Baishi to see which of them reached a higher level of accomplishment. They concluded that both have their own merit, both are undefeated champions in the art and both reached the pinnacle of artistry. Recently, some art critics also brought up the oil painting Sunflowers and the ink-wash painting Sunflowers, both created by H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III, and gave them rave reviews. They went on to compare the works by Vincent van Gogh and Qi Baishi with the works by H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III, trying to establish which of the three artists is the champion of the champions. The result of comparing the works by Van Gogh, Qi Baishi, and H.H Dorje Chang Buddha III is tremendously inspiring.

Ever since the Renaissance, Western artists had placed emphasis on rational analysis and the realist portrayal of forms. They used light, texture, and details to present the realistic, three-dimensional perspective. A few centuries later, Van Gogh rejected the monotony of such use of light and shadow and the realistic portrayal of figures.  He pioneered the movement of impressionism that suited him well by applying a mix of colorful, brilliant, splendid, and vigorous brushstrokes. He became a great master of his time and his name was forever etched onto the monument of Western civilization and art.

Whenever people think of Van Gogh, they think of his unique character, the sparkles in his eyes that emit lightning, his vigor, and his incessant pursuit of inspiration in the art without any regard to external hardships. Van Gogh was an artist by birth. He was of exceptional confidence and was somewhat neurotic. Having such traits, he pursued the art that he loved without any reservation or hesitation. He loved his works and regarded everything else with disdain. He preferred to be a loner in the world and did not care to make the acquaintance of other painters of his time. His works are full of luminous colors, the brushstrokes are like rising winds and racing clouds in the sky. In his art, he depicted pasture, figures, flowers, and other subject matters with brisk colors. Every brushstroke was transformed from his inner emotions. Such emotions were fully and colorfully captured in his Self-Portrait as well as in the transcendental Sunflowers that he painted. These works contain an animated spirit that is deeply moving.

From Van Gogh’s artistic spirit and intent, we can detect that he was profoundly knowledgeable about Chinese ink-wash paintings. Precisely because of this, while depicting forms and applying colors, he employed the skills of using the center tip of the brush and parallel brushstrokes. His Still Life with Bible was created with parallel brushstrokes. In his Self-Portrait, he portrayed his face filled with lines and plaques that are extraordinary. It is not hard for us to discover that he drew inspiration from the substance and essence of Chinese painting in those brushstrokes. That is why Van Gogh is such a distinguished, unparalleled artist of his time and his works are superior to those by the other Western oil painters such as Cezanne, Gauguin, or Picasso of the same era.

Van Gogh’s artistic style was closely linked not only to Chinese civilization in the East, but also to classical Renaissance art, Pointillism, German Expressionism, and Impressionism in the West. Toward the end of his life, he came into oneness with the universe and immersed himself in a carefree state of mind to “follow wherever nature might lead.” As such, he was no longer aware of his own existence. In his mind, there was only art and the universe. “Following where the nature may lead” is the essence of the ideology of the Chinese philosopher Laozi. Van Gogh cut off his ear with a knife. He lost himself completely in painting. That was his unspoken resentment and rejection of the unfair treatment imposed on him by society.

Qi Baishi was profoundly knowledgeable about impressionist, fauvist, and realist paintings. By adopting the essence of Western painting and incorporating the traditional spirit of Eastern art, he developed his unique style and became the master of Chinese painting of the twentieth century. His brushstrokes were solid and poised, evincing a sense of power that went all the way through the paper. Using sheep-hair brushes, he elicited calligraphic skills to create his paintings. Qi Baishi’s lines are bold and robust, embodying a forceful spirit that can move mountains. At the same time, these lines are flexible, sturdy, and round, with similar qualities to the lines of wire-drawing. His compositions emerged naturally from the spontaneous movement of the brushes. Such compositions are accompanied by vigorous calligraphy resembling the strength, power, and fluidity of stone inscriptions.

The artistic concept of spontaneously “following where nature may lead” is precisely derived from Laozi’s philosophy and the artistic civilization of the Chinese ethnicity. Qi Baishi favored the use of white space in his paintings. The white space in black-and-white Chinese ink-wash paintings is considered a solid color. Ink can be differentiated into nine shades (or five shades according to ancient Chinese text.) That is to say, the white of the paper per se and the black of the ink are all considered as colors. There is a sense of meticulous precision in the artworks by Qi Baishi. He depicted insects such as grasshoppers, mantises, and butterflies in meticulous and vividly colorful ways. In some of his artworks, the artist was able to express his ideas by putting down just a few brushstrokes without any conscious intent, while arriving at a state of oblivion of his own existence.  Anything depicted by his brushes was vivid and vibrant, with the subject matter coming alive on the paper. There is an aura that moves our hearts and souls. All in all, Qi Baishi’s paintings were executed with a confident brushwork that naturally achieved a kind of childlike charm.

Recently, some people compared the works by Van Gogh and Qi Baishi with the works by H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III to see whose works are more superior and outstanding or will have a broader and more far-reaching influence on later generations. I have viewed quite a lot of the artworks by Van Gogh, Qi Baishi, and H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III. I started the study and appreciation of the paintings by Qi Baishi under the enlightening guidance of my teacher when I was 9, and when I was 14, I began to study and appreciate the works by Van Gogh. It has since been several decades!

At the same time, since I have admired the art of H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III for a long time, to satisfy my desire and wishes I flew from New York to San Francisco to visit the International Art Museum of America, and to Los Angeles to visit the H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III Cultural and Art Museum in order to see their collections. I was profoundly impressed by the architecture of both museums which is grand and dignified. Both museums have a collection of the authentic works by H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III. There are various artworks that are created with different kinds of material. Some are bold and forthright, some are charmingly meticulous and astounding. The oeuvre is not made up of just one single style.

Yet, the only artwork that was not available for viewing is the Sunflowers painted by H.H Dorje Chang Buddha III. When I hear that some art critics are comparing the works by Van Gogh and Qi Baishi with the works by H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III, I naturally feel, from my experience of having studied the works by Van Gogh and Qi Baishi for a number of decades, that although their artistry are similar in levels, it is possible to say who is the best if we are just to compare the sunflowers painted by the three artists, when we include in the compositions, colors, brushwork, lines, vitality, spirit and so on. With all these elements in consideration, it is possible to do the comparison and conclude who painted the best, or in other words, whose works can bring the most joy and delight to people, or whose art will be most influential to the philosophy, artistic concept and entire civilization of this world.

Therefore, without any ambiguity, we concluded. In terms of character and morality, Van Gogh would be the last of the three. In terms of the level of skills, Qi Baishi would also be ahead of Van Gogh, who is, however, already the cream of the crop in western civilization. Being the Buddha living in the current century, H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III saves living beings with great loving compassion. He is not embodied in an ordinary being. Needless to say, the level of cultivation of the Buddha is superior to that of Van Gogh and Qi Baishi. In terms of creativity and painting skills, how can any ordinary person even hold a candle to the Buddha? In this way, the comparison result is immediately determined.

When those art critics carried out the detailed research of the Sunflowers by Van Gogh and Qi Baishi as well as H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III, they copied the artworks by all three artists. After copying the works by Van Gogh and Qi Baishi, they felt deeply that through hands-on practice, they indeed gained more understanding of their works. It would not be easy but not so difficult either for one to really reach their artistic level. As for the Sunflowers by H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III, they found it rather difficult to copy.  Even though they tried many times, they had a hard time just copying the form, let alone the spirit.

The Sunflowers by H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III clearly show the artist’s solid foundation and prolific skills in the Eastern and Western painting traditions. They comprise the essences in both traditions and display brushwork, sentiment, and colors that are one of a kind. The color tones and brushstrokes are rich, dense, soothing, and elegant. Lively brushwork paints an animated charm that is whole, evincing a miraculous and expansive spirit and aura as well as a strong vitality. As for the Sunflowers oil painting in which H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III depicted some flowers inside a vase, the artistry is extraordinary and full of variations; the composition is simple yet abstruse. The flowers are natural and gracious, such that they give an impression of unpredictability, reaching a state of oneness with the universe and emanating a sharp animated spirit.

The ink-wash painting Sunflowers by H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III has an uninhibited, natural, and spontaneous brushwork that is dense, bold, and robust, but also elegant and agile. It exhibits a charm that is like stone and bronze inscriptions. Overall, the whole painting manifests a harmonious and moving imagery, naturally emanating a lively vivaciousness and a carefree, spirited aura.

In comparing the works by Van Gogh of the Western civilization, Qi Baishi of the Eastern culture, and H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III, we can see the artists are distinguished in their unique own ways owing to their different cultures. However, only the artist who can continue to influence the world two to three hundred years from now will be the everlasting monument.  There is a saying, “Talents emerge in every era and they all will each have 500 years of fame!”  For people of the present day, the one whose work you like the best would be the one that is the most extraordinary!

Please see the contrast of six paintings below:

Sunflowers by van Gogh (1)

Sunflowers by van Gogh (2)

Sunflowers by Qi Baishi (1)

Sunflowers by Qi Baishi (2)

Ink-wash Painting Sunflowers by
H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III

Oil Painting Sunflowers by
H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III

Lin Jiguang

October 26, 2018

Preeminent Artist Chen Zizhuang’s Conclusive Judgment on Class of Divinity and Class of Ease

Preeminent Artist Chen Zizhuang’s Conclusive Judgment on Class of Divinity and Class of Ease

For art lovers to clearly understand the high-level artistry of noble style and magnificent conception, the Art Publishing of America has researched historical archives relating to different artists, as well as various insights and art criticism available online. We are including the critical writings on art by Chen Zizhuang, the preeminent painter in history, for your reference. As a viewer, one must first understand the different levels of style in order to truly appreciate the inner essence, the ease of marvelous charm, and the vividness of life in the art of painting. Only then can one truly comprehend the extrinsic and intrinsic beauty.

Dr. Yuhua Shouzhi Wang is a supreme virtuoso in painting. In order for readers to truly recognize the artistry of Dr. Yuhua Shouzhi Wang, we have included Chen Zizhuang’s Conclusive Judgment on Class of Divinity and Class of Ease in this catalog. When Dr. Yuhua Shouzi Wang knew about our decision to include Master Chen Zizhuang’s theory and judgment, she did not agree to it. Dr. Wang said, “Art is manifold. Art serves to offer enjoyment to people. There are noble style and ordinary art to suit different art lovers. Few people are able to understand the art of noble style. Different styles of art are like different kinds of flowers in a floral garden. Each kind of flower has its own characteristics. Each person has their own likes and preferences. Master Chen Zizhuang can be considered the Van Gogh of the East. He has attained the state of no-self and no methods. His alignment with nature is the backbone of his conception, enabling him to free himself from the restrictions of ink and brush. His art is truly wonderful and can be reckoned as the pinnacle of the Class of Ease in the history of art. At the same time, I have to say that each painter has their own strengths. For example, Zhang Daqian was highly skilled in rendering springing lines when he copied the Dunhuang Murals. In his old age, his ink wash landscape paintings were of special qualities. The horses that Xu Beihong painted were of historical significance as his style was distinctive and preceded by no one. Bada Sharen, Wu Changshuo, Qi Baishi, and Huang Binhong were unquestionably great masters of painting. Other painters were also showing their respective strengths and offering different levels of enjoyment to different people. Their strengths are what I have to learn.”

Following is the Conclusive Judgement on Class of Divinity and Class of Ease by Master Chen Zizhuang.

What is the Class of Divinity? This refers to artworks that consist of infinite variation and highly concise composition; people can feel the extreme likeness of the objects yet the paintings do not contain much detail of the form. Some scholars say that the Class of Ease is superior to the Class of Divinity. Ease is the result of the artist breaking loose from the inner mind, as well as from the methods and formal elements of art. The painting of this class is absolutely free of any restraints.

What is the Class of Ease? It is simplicity, childlikeness, and truthfulness to one’s feelings. No deliberate effort is made in the creation of a painting. The artist has attained the state of no-self and no methods.

Wu Daozi is of the Class of Divinity. Shi Tao, Wu Changshuo, and Huang Binhong are of the Class of Divinity. They did not attain the Class of Ease. This is because their art still carries selfness. When Qi Baishi was about ninety years old, his works were between the Class of Divinity and the Class of Ease.

The buffaloes that Qi Baishi painted do not look like buffaloes. The image does not look like a buffalo, but the buffalo is implied. It even makes people feel that the buffalo is slowly moving forward. He did not depict water, but the composition gives a sense that the water in the field is very deep. This is called “attaining the conception and abandoning the form.”

A painting of the Class of Ease is one that has escaped the “net of methodologies.” The artist has been through all the hardships and understands all the difficulties. This is obviously different from the state of no knowledge.

Painting requires two kinds of ability. One is the ability to paint. Another is the ability to express. To paint is to illustrate and describe. To express is to present the state of ease in one’s mind. Expression is essential to the art of painting. However, looking through paintings created by artists from the past to the present, most people only paint but they are not able to express.

The first chapter in learning how to paint is about capturing the form. Once the form is correctly captured, then it has to be abstracted and given an artistic touch. That is the development from likeness to unlikeness, from nature to art.

The first step in painting is to develop likeness. The second step is to abandon likeness to achieve unlikeness. First, one must capture the likeness of the form and subsequently lose that likeness. If you are unable to achieve the first step to resemble the likeness, yet you claim that what you paint is between likeness and unlikeness, then you are simply deceiving yourself and deceiving others.

Rustic simplicity is the most sought-after quality in painting and calligraphy. A good painting does not show any sense of elegance or stylishness. You can understand this by looking at the paintings of Bada Shanren. The paintings of Wu Changshuo and Qi Baishi still show a sense of elegance and do not achieve complete rusticity. The art of Huang Binhong does not show any sense of elegance. In terms of class, Huang is superior.

The noblest of art cannot be learned through forms or expressions, because art emanates from the character and morality of the artist.

It is not easy to reach the state of “painting mindlessly” where someone can spontaneously create wondrous works of art even though they seem to be doodling mindlessly. Historically, only Fang Fanghu, Sun Long, Shitao, and Bada Shanren were able to do so. Xu Wei and Chen Chun were hobbyists, they could create some casual works, but when it came to serious art, they had no such abilities. Wen Zhengming, Shen Zhou, Qiu Ying, Tang Yin, or the Four Wangs did not even know the rudiments of “painting mindlessly.”

When Qi Baishi was in his seventies, his art gradually became mature. It was also when Huang Binhong and Wu Changshuo were in their seventies that their art became mature. Chen Shizeng passed away when his art was approaching maturity. The Three Rens (Ren Xun, Ren Xiong, and Ren Bonian) did not reach maturity in their art. Historically, Bada Shanren was one who matured at a young age. Shitao was halfway to maturity when he died.

The Emperor Huizong of the Song Dynasty did not make one good painting. His flower and bird paintings were only of the quality of specimen drawings. During that time, it was chronicled that the Emperor’s paintings were “unsurpassable by anyone in the world.” It is obvious that either the literati of the time were unable to tell good from bad, or they chose to flatter the powerful and dared not speak the truth.

The painting method of Huang Gongwang in depicting landscape was limited to one type of mountain. He was just like a street singer who keeps singing the same song. The Four Masters of the Yuan Dynasty mainly adhered to traditional ways without much of their own original creation.

The art of Tang Yin was simply a sentimental nuisance. His works only presented superficial richness of beauty but were devoid of ideation.

During the Ming Dynasty, Wen Zhengming, Shen Zhou, Qiu Ying, and Tang Yin relied on following the methods of Song artists to create paintings. They did not have much originality.

Xu Wei was rich in imagination, but he did not have much real-life exposure. His paintings can only be considered works of an amateur. He did not have fundamental painting skills.

Among the Four Monks of the Ming Dynasty, Shitao and Bada Shanren expanded the scope of landscape paintings. Shi Xi and Hong Ren were narrow in their scopes.

Trivial details can still be seen from Shitao’s paintings, yet Bada Shanren had transcended the mundane. The art of the Eight Eccentrics of Yangzhou was sluggish. They cannot be considered masters.

In the last few hundred years, there were only three persons who can be considered eminent masters in the field of art. They were Wu Changshuo, Huang Binhong, and Qi Baishi.

Zhang Daqian did not develop his own style from daily life. He formed his style by imitating the works of earlier artists. This is very different from creating art from observing the world. That is why in terms of thinking, he has no original ideas. In terms of philosophy, he has no system. In terms of painting, he has no theory.

Zhang Daqian could paint a perfectly round halo on top of a Buddha in one stroke. He openly demonstrates that all the time. People are amazed and full of praise, calling him the living Wu Daozi. Reporters love taking pictures of him. However, that is only his craftsmanship, not art.

Zhang Daqian is very intelligent. Unfortunately, he has not applied effort in developing his creativity and he is wasting away his time.

Xu Beihong was overly skillful in painting horses. He always painted the same horse. That was all he could paint. Objects have their usual appearance, but, art must not become a stereotype. There must be variation. Art is divine when there is infinite variation. From a deep tradition comes a long legacy. Xu’s paintings did not spring from any traditions; it was inevitable that his art was limited.

The plum blossoms Kuan Shanyueh painted look like snapshots taken through a window. As an artist, he is merely acting as a camera. It is not possible to create a painting without artistic conception.

In painting pandas and camels, Wu Zuoren is still at the stage of imitating the likeness of nature. His works cannot be considered to be of any artistry.

Learning to paint comes in two stages. The first is the stage of craftsmanship. The second is the stage of art. Zhang Daqian has only attained the stage of craftsmanship.