VMPEA: Martin (Haochen) Bai
“Song Literati Mural Paintings: A ‘Mirror-Medium’ and New Research on Su Shi”
Speaker: Martin (Haochen) Bai, MAPH Student, UChicago
Discussant: Lucien Sun, PhD student, Department of Art History, UChicago
Su Shi and his circle have long been credited as originators of the Chinese literati painting tradition and with the inception of distinct literati art practices, including painting on silk, paper, and walls. Literati mural painting, due to its fragility, exists only in Song accounts, colophons, and poems. Building on the pioneering research of Maggie Bickford, Susan Bush, and others, this paper synthesizes their interpretations, elucidates the distinctness of literati mural practices, and sheds new light on cross-medium connections in literati paintings. The paper opens by proposing a new concept, "mirror-medium," to study the parallel developments between two art practices in different mediums and the appropriation of medium-specificity, which is built on Richard Barnhart's, Martin Powers’, and Richard Vinograd’s various reflections on "citation" within Chinese art. Then the paper argues that the beginning of literati paintings in Su Shi’s time grew out of the mutual influence between mural paintings and other art mediums. It thus extends James Cahill’s analysis of “spontaneity” in Song mural paintings to a broader picture of Song literati painting. The paper also complicates Susan Bush's and other scholars’ reflections on the social attributes of Song literati art and suggests that literati mural paintings became surrogates for other mediums in different social settings.
Martin (Haochen) Bai is a MA student in the Master of Arts Program in the Humanities at the University of Chicago, focusing on Chinese American art and Song Dynasty paintings. His master's thesis is about the relationships between Su Shi’s circle and murals. He graduated from UC Berkeley with an art history major.
Lucien Sun is a PhD student focusing on Chinese art and visual culture of the Middle Period. He received his Bachelor’s degree from Fudan University, Shanghai. He also spent a year at the University of Tokyo studying Japanese collections of Chinese and East Asian art. His dissertation investigates the visual culture of Southern Shanxi during the Jin–Yuan periods, and how picture in its broad sense moved across space and media under the Mongol Empire. He is also interested in the materiality and medium-specificity of image-bearing objects across cultures. Related to this theme, Lucien’s most recent essay on the first section of the Codex Mendoza produced in colonial Mesoamerica appears in The Codex Mendoza: New Insights (USFQ Press, 2022).
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The password to this zoom session is 030254
Image details: Su Shi (1037-1101). Wood and Rock. Handscroll, Ink on paper. 26.3 X 50cm; overall with mounting: 27.2 X 543cm. Image from Christie’s.