Four Gentlemen

Angela Li, M2, Class of 2023

This set of paintings depicts a common motif in Chinese paintings: the Four Gentlemen. My grandfather is proficient in the art of Chinese brushwork, which feature the characteristic ink wash on rice paper, with an emphasis on nature and landscapes. I grew up seeing his work–even learning the techniques, and I finally felt that it was time for me to have my own set of brushwork paintings to fill my walls, especially with Step 1 looming over the horizon. Though the materials and techniques are not all traditional and proper, I suppose the paintings are much like myself: a variation on a theme, with elements drawn from the two cultures I grew up in. For this set, I used acrylic paints with traditional ink wash brushes (sacrilegious, I’m sure) on long regular canvases, to give the impression of a vertical scroll painting.

The Four Gentlemen, or the Four Nobles, refer to a collection of four plants, the plum blossom, bamboo, chrysanthemum, and orchid. These are meant to represent uprightness, purity, humility, and perseverance against harsh conditions, all of which are important virtues that are valued in Chinese culture.

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