From the literati admiration of Laozi's metaphysical idea of "integrating the Heavens and humanity into one" during the Wei and Jin dynasties, a landscape of the spirit developed through poetry and painting of the Tang and Song dynasties down to the Yuan dynasty. In fact, landscape painting has long been a medium for transmitting the spirit in Chinese art. Everywhere in Chinese poetry, painting, and calligraphy can be found expressions of the notion of taking joy in the mountains and finding wisdom in the waters. And in the Yuan dynasty, literati painters of landscapes who took reclusion in mountains of the mind used sentiments from their own experiences in life to engage in a dialogue with the landscape, describing an interaction between life and Nature. The aura of Heavens and Earth coalesce as mountains and dissolve into rivers, the landscape becoming the substance of mutual interaction between Nature and individual being. Landscape painting is the common support for the artist's spirit and Heavens and Earth as recorded with brush and ink.
The painting format of the long handscroll became a spiritual imprint of Chinese culture, and Huang Gongwang's "Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains" can be considered its representative. The spiritual and remote landscape forms in this painting contain a consciousness of fusion and freedom, the artistic expression of the philosophy behind a simple life.
In the famous Introduction to Landscape Painting by the Jin-Song painter Zong Bing, he wrote, "A myriad delights fuse into spiritual thoughts" and "Rejoice in the spirit, that is all." Such accounts relate to the art of creating and appreciating landscape painting. Spiritual thoughts, or contemplating the spiritually sublime, involves connecting a person's aesthetic of the landscape with the experiences in life, making it a process by which painters go about developing their creation of an appreciation of beauty based on their own imagination and invention. Rejoicing in the spirit means making one’s spirit happy and joyous. Emphasizing the value of freedom in the individual aesthetic, aesthetics enter a state of self-awareness, breaking from the shackles of "making use" and "comparable ethics."
Ancient paintings are impressions of the process in the interaction between life and Nature. Huang Gongwang's landscape of the spirit in ink on paper is a medium that allows people today to go back in time and space to "meet" him. In an exhibit of his art, we can encounter this spiritual form of substance, meeting the spirit of the painter. And with this special exhibition, audiences can engage in a meeting with his painting rarely seen.
Audiences not only can personally feel the spirit of the original painting, they can also understand the details of its traces and forms. The National Palace Museum has opened this exhibit area in an attempt to extend the aesthetics of this painting and its related history by means of new art techniques. Inviting the participation of contemporary art and design ideas, a different kind of work involving secondary affections is created. Combining a vein to link times from the past and the present as well as contemporary visual experiences, a bold new freedom in Chinese landscape painting can break down the boundaries of time and space. Its high spirit of lyrical sketching ideas in a new vocabulary of expression fuses memories of classical culture with experiences of the moment, creating a richer level to the visit of the museum exhibition. Providing audiences with an even broader space for imagination and a joyously free aesthetic, it thus makes the perceptive experience in the notion of traveling the landscape and meeting with the "Great Fool" himself, Huang Gongwang, even more accessible.