Antanas Andrijauskas, Visual Arts and Music in Traditional Chinese Art System

In the traditional Chinese art system, we find a fundamental conceptual distinction between practical work akin to crafts and the more refined, spiritual, and creative activities such as music, calligraphy, poetry and landscape painting. The concept of music in the traditional Chinese art system is very broad and closely connected with the oldest cosmogonist theories. On the other hand, the character, which is the ideographic sign constituting the basis of Chinese writing system, exhibits specific polysemantism, situativity and contextuality. It is precisely the Chinese character that is presented as the deepest systematic organisational archetype for Chinese culture, its art and aesthetic tradition. The character forms a certain civilizational core, which unifies many other segments of this multi-layered artistic cultural tradition, firstly calligraphy, painting, and poetry. Thus, the visuality, directly associated with Chinese character writing system is situated within the deepest substance of Chinese culture and determines the specific features of main historical development of aesthetic and artistic culture. The particularity of Chinese art system and exceptional importance of musical principles (rhythm, pause, flexible lines) becomes more prominent when calligraphy gradually reaches its supremacy in the art hierarchy from the fourth century, and later, during the Song dynasty, when calligraphy is pushed out by rapidly developing landscape painting which possesses exceptional sophistication of aesthetic culture. The gradual rise of these arts and their interchange within the art hierarchy highlights the importance of aesthetic aspects, connected to the concept of harmony within the art system. And finally, the principle of visuality, flowing from the visual nature of Chinese writing system, intertwined with musical principles, unavoidably influences subsequent changes of Chinese traditional art system and defines the originality of Chinese aesthetic artistic phenomena in the wide perspective of comparative analysis.