Student: Dihua Wei
Advisor: Michael Jemtrud
Studio: Directed Research Project
Year/Term: Fall 2016
Both the landscape paintings and the literati gardens became popular because of political and social unrest. The concept of withdrawal into nature and values of self-cultivation became major thematic focuses of poets and painters in reaction to career disappointment. Paintings of misty landscape contains hidden messages of protest against the tyranny. The literati gardens became the privileged place for social and artistic gatherings and the pursuit of meaning through a life of contemplation.
The thesis first explores the origins of the Chinese literati gardens within its historical, political and artistic context in the ancient China. Given that the literati gardens were conceived using the same principles first elucidated in the landscape painting tradition, the second part focuses on the connection between representation methods and design principles. The third part analyses specifically the Suzhou Gardens using a combination of plan drawings and perspectival sketches to reveal additional techniques of composition unique to the literati gardens. Finally, in the form of a project proposal, the Twobirds garden experiments with the previously defined and analyzed techniques for a contemporary situation. I have chosen the site of the Westmount park, the design of which is influenced by the picturesque traditions. In choosing to alter the existing conditions of the Westmount park, I would like to take this opportunity to engage a conversation between two influential landscape traditions: the Chinese literati gardens and the English picturesque gardens.