Minimalism in Ni Zan's "The Rongxi Studio" Descriptive Essay by roberts2

Minimalism in Ni Zan's "The Rongxi Studio"
A detailed analysis of the Chinese painter Ni Zan's painting "The Rongxi Studio" (1372) as an example of minimalist eccentricity.
# 114129 | 3,235 words | 18 sources | MLA | 2009 | US
Published on May 31, 2009 in Art (Artists) , Art (History) , Asian Studies (East Asian Cultures) , Art (Painting)

$59.95 Buy and instantly download this paper now


This paper discusses the Chinese painter Ni Zan's minimalist style, providing a historical background and a synopsis of the painter's life. The author explains how these throw light on why Ni Zan painted landscape scenery and why he did it in the minimalist style; his conflict with the Mongolian regime pushed him to eremitism, where he simply painted simple nature. His craft and technique were detailed, however, such as his use of the canonized tri-part type composition. "The Rongxi Studio" captures the essence of Ni Zan's painting style, as it shows how he incorporated the Chinese painting tradition before him into his work, transforming it into his own minimalist style and compositionally arranging figures with different brushstroke patterns to produce dramatic tension within his painting. By comparing this painting to another by Ni Zan and to a painting by Wu Zhen, the author shows how Ni Zan's minimalist style contrasts sharply with orthodox Chinese painting during his time.

Historical Context
Ni Zan in the Late Yuan Dynasty
From Politics to Painting: Ni Zan's Perspective
Visual Analysis
Compositional Arrangement
Brushstroke: Avoiding a Static Depiction
The Minimalist Style of Ni Zan
Poetry as Purpose
Comparative Analysis
The Studio and Wu Zhen's Fishermen
The Studio and Six Gentlemen
The Uniqueness of the Studio

From the Paper:

"Ni Zan's political reclusion shaped his painting. His retreat to the waters and his Neo-Confucian ideals aided in the way he painted. His simple depictions of stones, trees, and mountains showed a spirit of aloofness and detachedness to society, but incorporated the quiet waters as symbols for his meditative moods and deepest thoughts. He accumulated numerous amounts of nicknames that portray his personality; including "The Very Quiet One," "The Child of Clouds," "The Spotless Scholar," and "The Unapproachable Ni." The impact of the Mongols and the rebels forced Ni Zan to live in seclusion, and thus, his personality as well as his perspective on painting was influenced. Ni Zan painted landscapes; he did not paint actual people. Ni Zan, with his aesthetics, wanted to capture nature without humanity--without Mongols or rebels--and we can see through The Rongxi Studio how his personal perspective of humanity and nature are tied into his painting."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Cahill, James. Hills Beyond a River: Chinese Painting of the Yuan Dynasty. New York: Weatherhill, 1976.
  • Cahill, James.. Parting at the Shore: Chinese Painting of the Early and Middle Ming Dynasty. New York: Weatherhill, 1978.
  • Cahill, James.. The Distant Mountains: Chinese Painting of the Late Ming Dynasty. New York: Weatherhill, 1982.
  • Chut-sing, Li. "Biography of Ni Tsan." Goodrich and Fang ed. Dictionary of Ming Biography 2 vols. (1976).
  • Dardess, John W. Conquerors and Confucians: Aspects of Political Change in Late Yuan. New York: Columbia University Press, 1973.

Cite this Descriptive Essay:

APA Format

Minimalism in Ni Zan's "The Rongxi Studio" (2009, May 31) Retrieved August 18, 2017, from

MLA Format

"Minimalism in Ni Zan's "The Rongxi Studio"" 31 May 2009. Web. 18 August. 2017. <>