Xia Gui (Chinese, active ca. 1195–1230)
Album leaf; ink on silk
9 3/4 x 8 3/8 in. (24.8 x 21.3 cm)
Signed: "Xia Gui"
John Stewart Kennedy Fund, 1913 (13.100.102)
This album leaf presents a poetic evocation of one of the Eight Views of the Xiao and Xiang Rivers. Xia's boldly executed brushstrokes and ink dots create an abstract language of visual signs rather than merely descriptive forms: the kinaesthetic brushstrokes, which change effortlessly from outlines and foliage dots to wedge-shaped modeling strokes and ink wash, at once simplify and unify the landscape and human forms, breathing life into the moisture-drenched landscape. It was this brilliantly simplified ink-wash and ax-cut brush idiom, infusing gesture with meaning, that paved the way for the calligraphic revolution of expressive brushwork in the ensuing Yuan dynasty.