About Nature: Discourses on the Boundaries of East and West in Curtis Carter’s Concern over Contemporary Chinese Art


  • Eva Kit Wah Man




nature, globalization, traditional landscape painting, Chinese gardens, aesthetic experience, contemporary ink art


American aesthetician Curtis Carter demonstrates genuine concern for the subject of nature in contemporary Chinese art and its representations. He correctly points out that the Chinese tradition of featuring nature in the arts represents an imaginary paradise grounded in an idealized nature. Carter’s concern regarding China’s entry into a state of globalization is the impact of Westernizing globalization on the place of nature in Chinese art. Before discussing his concern, this article provides a review of the meaning of nature in traditional Chinese art and revisits ink painter Shitao’s notion of nature in his most representative painting notes, Hua-pu. Curtis also mentions the Chinese garden, stating that gardens in urban settings are supposed to maintain the presence of nature, and exemplifying them as symbolic presentations of nature. In addressing Carter’s concern, a review of the aesthetic experience of visiting a Chinese garden is provided for background. Carter also suggests examining the practices of contemporary Chinese experimental art versus the practices of traditional art to determine whether nature will retain a significant place in today’s Chinese art practices under the strong influences of globalization. This article examines the contemporary ink landscape scene and suggests that new Chinese art involves the invention of new paradigms in art creation, the resources of which are now available globally, and that representations of nature and reality are transforming.


Article received: April 30, 2020; Article accepted: June 25, 2020; Published online: September 15, 2020; Review article


Author Biography

Eva Kit Wah Man

Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong

Eva Kit Wah Man is currently the Director of Film Academy and Chair Professor in Humanities at Hong Kong Baptist University. She publishes widely in comparative aesthetics, comparative philosophy, women’s studies, feminist philosophy, cultural studies, art, and cultural criticism. She was a Fulbright scholar and conducted research at the University of California, Berkeley, in 2004. She was named AMUW Endowed Woman Chair Professor of the 100th Anniversary of Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 2009. She contributes public services the Hong Kong Arts Development Council, Hong Kong Museum’s Advisory Committee and Hong Kong Public Libraries and other committees for the Home Affairs Bureau of the Hong Kong Government, and the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Arts and Cultural Heritage projects.


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Carter, Curtis. “Globalization and Chinese Contemporary Art: West to East, East to West.” In Unsettled Boundaries: Philosophy, Art, Ethics. East/West, edited by Curtis Carter, 113–28. Milwaukee: Marquette University Press, 2017.

Carter, Curtis. “Globalization, Modernity and the Place of Nature in Chinese Art.” Unpublished paper, typescript.

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Hay, Jonathan S. Shitao: Painting and Modernity in Early Qing China. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001.

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How to Cite

Wah Man, E. K. (2020). About Nature: Discourses on the Boundaries of East and West in Curtis Carter’s Concern over Contemporary Chinese Art. AM Journal of Art and Media Studies, (22), 43–53. https://doi.org/10.25038/am.v0i22.383



Main Topic: Vertigo Aesthetics: Between Art – Resistance –Technology – Politics