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Landscape of the Spirit

Although artist-recluses lived different lives, they shared the following endeavor: they searched for another world through paintings. This world may be an ordinary scene of residence or it may be the beautiful landscape of a scenic area. Paintings served as a window into this world of imagination, giving expression to the artists' emotions and ideals as well as reflecting his role in the history of this art form. Their choice of subject matters, techniques, references, and compliance with or rejection of past artistic traditions are a reflection of their individuality and relationships with others.

The different subjects brushed by these artists nonetheless express the same landscape of the spirit. Varying forms and techniques as well as their proximity to painting tradition yield a variety of appearances to their art. For example, Zhao Mengfu in the tranquil and idyllic scenery depicted in his "Autumn Colors on the Qiao and Hua Mountains" revived elements and techniques of antiquity as he engaged in a "dialogue" with the ancients that added another level to his painting.