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51) Kung Hsien (ca.1619-1689). Hanging scroll; ink on paper; about 1670. Kung Hsien, a contemporary of Pa-ta shan-jen, is also an important non-orthodox painter of the seventeenth century, who developed an individual style. His work shows endless effort to render a full array of tonal patterns from silvery gray to impenetrable black. His work represents the limits of what can be achieved in the Chinese tradition of ink on paper. This grand pattern of shattered peaks, plunging cascades, and torn clouds has no antecedent in early Chinese painting. Also, the dramatic effects achieved by light and shadow are not characteristically Chinese. This bleak, desolate landscape is fully without sign of human activity and may be an allegory for the desolation of the land under Manchu occupation. There is also some indication that Kung Hsien may have been among the first Chinese painters to have been exposed to Western paintings, since he had contact with Jesuit missionaries in his native Nanking. This work may be a product of that exposure.

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