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LI Lingshen or Li Ling-Shenlocked


Chinese, 9th century, male.



Li Lingshen was an individualist who refused to be bound by rules and customs, often ignoring the prerogatives of princes and painting only when he felt like it, most often when inspired by wine. At the time, his lack of decorum was regarded as a mark of superiority. Li was also an unorthodox painter: he would start a landscape with a point or a feature, out of which the image would then emerge, sometimes with isolated peaks rising out of the mist, or little islands appearing along a river. He fits into no category; it was said of him that he succeeded in grasping the essence of things in his sketches as if spontaneously. His example would serve as an inspiration to Liang Kai and Muqi....

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