Shrimps by Qi Baishi

“The excellence of a painting lies in its being alike, yet unlike. Too much likeness flatters the vulgar taste; too much unlikeness deceives the world.”

Qi Baishi, Crabs and fishQi Baishi‘s painting style was based on the Xie Yi style, which focuses on expression, and painting one’s feelings and moods. The Chinese master is considered to be the last of the greatest traditional Chinese painters.

He found beauty in ordinary things in life. A large number of his works are paintings of animals, insects and flowers. This painting Shrimp is a great example of balance between real and unreal. They are perfect in their form and even shades (notice the translucent tails!). They have almost been brought to life through deft and controlled brush strokes. It is, however, not a “realistic” painting; and this fact circles back to Qi Baishi’s basic principle of maintaining just the right level of unlikeness!

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