Bamboo sprays hug and articulate the contours of rocks that demarcate the diagonal axis falling from upper left to lower right. The opposing, and balancing, diagonal is suggested by shadowy forms to the upper right, where the movement is confirmed by the presence of the inscription. Ink values are expertly controlled so as to suggest a pictorial recession in space, from dark to light, as well as defining the three-dimensionality and visual solidity of the rocks with shading and application of dots to build up substance. Given the limitation of subject matter—bamboo and rocks alone—the painting is yet of compelling interest, with variations in ink values supporting and contributing to a very dynamic composition.
Ling Wan, tzu Yu-hui, was from She-hsien in Anhui province. A student of Fang Wei, both artists were recorded in the Tu-hua Lu of Chou Liang-kung (1612-1672), indicating that he knew them and collected their work. Although the present painting is one of very few works by Ling Wan known to be extent, it confirms Chou Liang-kung’s opinion of the artist that “…His Way was great in Wei-yang.”
1. Chou Liang-kung: Tu-hua Lu, Hua-shih Ts’ung-shu edition, vol. 4, p. 2083.