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East Asian Painting and Cinema

Biopics about Japanese, South Korean and Chinese painters.


The groundbreaking, seminal study edited by Ehrlich and Desser on Sino-Japanese paintings and film must be mentioned here (see bibliography).


Five Women around Utamaro (Japan 1946 by Kenji Mizoguchi with Minosuke Bandô as printmaker Kitagawa UTAMARO 1753-1806). Thorough analyses of the film can be found in and by Dalle Vacche (Cinema and Painting) 197—220 and by Dudley Andrew in Ehrlich 217—240 (see bibliography).


Yumeji (Japan 1991 by Seijun Suzuki with Kenji Sawada as the poet-painter Takehisa YUMEJI 1884-1934).


Chi-hwa-seaon (South Korea 2002 by Im Kwon-taek with Choi Min-sik as the nineteenth-century Korean painter Jang Seung-eop 1843-1897).


SHIN YUN-BOK aka Hyewon 1758-1813, one of the three most important folk painters of the Joseon Kingdom (1391-1910). The 2007 historical fiction novel The Painter of Wind by Lee Jung-myung advances the theory that Shin may actually have been a cross-dressed girl, an idea that was subsequently taken up by the 2008 South Korean TV historical drama Painter of the Wind directed by Jang Tae-yoo and Jin Hyuk with Park Shin-yang as the painter. Though born a girl, Shin lives her whole life as a man because of discrimination against women in education and other areas of life and also to find who murdered her father. The same year a feature film based on the same novel was released, Portrait of a Beauty (South Korea 2008 by Jeon Yun-su) with actress Kim Min-sun as the (again female) painter who dresses as a man as a strategy of survival in the Confucian era.


Hua Hun / A Soul Haunted by Painting (China 1994 by Huang Shuqin with Gong Li as Pan Yuliang 1899-1977, who was sold into prostitution at the age of 15 before becoming a painter, graphic artist and sculptor)


Part 1 of 8 – Source: YouTube by filmandfilm.


Yuliang’s life story is also told in the 2003 Hong Kong Television Broadcasts Limited drama series Painting Soul by Guan Jinpeng where her role is played by Michelle Reis)


Tyrus Wong (1910-2016)


On the occasion of his death on 30 December the New York Times published “How ‘Bambi’ Got Its Look from 1,000-Year-Old Chinese Art” by Daniel McDermon. Calling the Chinese-American “an incredibly accomplished painter, illustrator, calligrapher and Hollywood studio artist”, McDermon goes on to emphasize “his essential contribution to Walt Disney’s 1942 animated classic, Bambi.” Obviously influenced by the landscape paintings of the formative Song dynasty (A.D. 960–1279) such as Xia Gui’s “Sailboat in a Rainstorm” from 1189-94, the style employed by Wong in Bambi puts the stress firmly on “the film’s animal characters in the foreground, evoking the lush surrounding forest with minimal brushwork, gentle washes and slashes of color.” For the whole article see


including reproductions of (sketches for) paintings and of film stills. McDermon’s piece also draws attention to “Water to Paper, Paint to Sky”, Wong’s first comprehensive retrospective exhibition from

15 August 2013—3 February 2014:





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