(born 1555, Huating, Kiangsu province, China—died 1636) Chinese painter, calligrapher, and theoretician of the late Ming period. He is noted especially for his writings on Chinese painting, which he divided into the Northern school, which taught the acquisition of truth, and the Southern school, which emphasized sudden, intuitive understanding. At the centre of the scholarly ideal of the Southern school was the art of calligraphy, which expressed the true nature of the artist without the interposition of pictorial description. Dong Qichang's own paintings stress stark forms, seemingly anomalous spatial renderings, and naive handling of ink and brush. His ideas continue to influence Chinese aesthetic theory.
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His work favored expression over formal likeness. He also avoided anything he deemed to be slick or sentimental. This led him to create landscapes with intentionally distorted spatial features. Still his work was in no way abstract as it took elements from earlier Yuan masters. His views on expression had importance to later "individualist" painters.
His positions in the bureaucracy were not without controversy. In 1605 he was giving the exam when the candidates demonstrated against him causing his temporary retirement. In other cases he insulted and beat women who came to his home with grievances. That led to his house being burned down by an angry mob. He also had the tense relations with the eunuchs common to the scholar bureaucracy. Dong's tomb was vandalized during the Cultural Revolution, and his body dressed in official Ming court robes, was desecrated by Red Guards.