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Korean J Art Hist > Volume 302; 2019 > Article
Korean Journal of Art History 2019;302:237-259.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.31065/ahak.302.302.201906.009    Published online June 30, 2019.
청 후기 蘇六朋과 蘇仁山의 사회비판적 회화 연구
은 영
국립고궁박물관 연구원
Social Commentary Paintings by Su Liupeng and Su Renshan in the Late Qing Period
Young Eun
Researcher, National Palace Museum of Korea
Received: 1 March 2019   • Revised: 6 April 2019   • Accepted: 22 April 2019
Active in Guangzhou in the late Qing dynasty, Su Liupeng (蘇六朋, ca. 1796~before 1862) and Su Renshan (蘇仁山, 1814~ca.1850) are among the rare artists in Chinese painting history to have produced social commentary paintings with distinct individuality. Despite no evidence of blood and social relationship, the two painters are comparable in that their periods and region of activity overlap and that both painted poignant social criticism without sacrificing visual qualities. The emergence of painters like the two Sus in Guangzhou is credited to a shift in the artworld of the city due to general political and economic changes of the late Qing dynasty. It is equally important that different personal backgrounds gave birth to differing approaches to, and perspectives on, visually realizing social critiques. Su Liupeng made commentaries on politics, society, and economics, taking inspirations from a neighborhood including the blind and marketplaces that he has often chose as subject-matters. Although a limited repertoire of conventional motifs, he holds an unprecedented position with his straightforward social-critical inscriptions on paintings. On the other hand, Su Renshan imparted into his paintings social dissatisfaction that has grown from personal failures in civil examinations and family discord. Relying on counter-Confucian ideas, he has reappraised historic figures, expressed ideal worlds, and created a pool of unheard-of motifs. The two Sus differ in terms of pictorial modes and originality; and yet both are modernists alike in that they saw painting as a vehicle to express one’s opinion and identity. In addition, it deserves attention that Su Liupeng and Su Renshan were active in modern Guangzhou, the place which has witnessed a rise of liberal intellectuals.

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