Abstract

In Chinese art education, inscape (jing) is one of the most important, complex, and difficult traditional aesthetic concepts; it concerns the artistic world created in a work of visual art, literature, music, or dance. How to approach this crucial concept in the teaching practice remains a challenge. In this essay, the Barthian semiotic approach, which is mainly about the extension of the signification process, is viewed as a development from linguistic analysis to cultural studies. Its relevance to inscape is found in the aesthetic totality of the sublime in classical Chinese landscape painting. Applying Barthian theory to the study and teaching of Chinese landscape painting, this essay explores the issue of inscape sublimation in the context of Chinese and Western aesthetics. In particular, this essay explores the material world of inscape at the formal level, the sensuous world at the aesthetic level, and the conceptual world at the ideological level. Supported by analytical readings of selected masterpieces of landscape painting from the Northern Song period, the essay concludes that the extension of the signification process makes the creation and sublimation of the inscape totality possible, which demonstrates the key achievement of, and sets up the standard for, landscape painting in Chinese art, aesthetically and ideologically.

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