The landscape possesses eternal charm to all.
Chinese people are well versed in the glamour of landscape art, or Shan Shui painting won't be one of the most important categories of traditional Chinese painting and the spiritual destination of literati, which seems accessible, attainable, habitable and approachable, carrying their seclusion dreams. As in China, the landscape art all over the world is far more than just a simulation of natural scenery. ‘Innocent eye is a myth’, just as Sir E.H. Gombrich (1909—2001) said, the outer landscape has to be taken, chosen, arranged and reorganized by human eyes and hands to become works of art, thus unavoidably carry the cultural genes of the artists, and reflect the cultural psychology and aesthetic concepts of different nations.
This is why we shall not only see this exhibition as the records of evolution and development of British landscape art from the 18th century to the 20th century, but also as an opportunity to compare the 'picturesque', 'sublime' and other subjects of landscape art, to detect the trend of traveling and the development of literature and theatre, and to observe the impact of industrial revolution, urbanization and global war on the landscapes. These past geniuses created great works, and what we see in the frames is not only the beautiful sceneries of Britain and other nations, but also windows for us to understand the western art, culture and history.
It is over 120 years since the founding of Tate Britain whose extensive collection of landscape paintings is world-renowned. Its collection includes the essence of Turner's works, which is undoubtedly the best in the world. The exhibits you would see in this exhibition are all from Tate Britain. On behalf of the Shanghai Museum, I would like to express my sincere thanks to the museum for its great support.
How superb these British masters are, and how excellent the landscape of Britain is! If one has ever been touched by landscapes in Shan Shui painting, one might enjoy this exhibition and the great British landscape art as well.