Reading Chinese Painting: Antonello Trombadori’s China and the Limits of the Contemporary


In this paper, we discuss the Chinese Notebook, an account of a trip to China written in 1955 by Antonello Trombadori, a young partisan of the Italian Resistance and an accomplished expert in the fields of art, cinema, and literature. We wish to use his Chinese Notebook as a starting point for a wider discussion on Orientalism and the limits of the intellectual vis-à-vis the dominant ideology.In order to do so, we explore an underlying tension in Trombadori's views on Chinese culture and art between an ideological (Marxist) reading and a more personal one. While Trombadori's ideological reading tends to relegate Chinese art to an artefact of the feudal age, his artistic sensibilities admit to the possibility of a Chinese aesthetics differing from the European one.We will draw on the theoretical framework of Chinese art, and especially on Shitao's (石濤 1642-1707) aesthetics, to see how a better understanding of Chinese visual arts may help us clarify the dynamics behind the tension underlying Trombadori's double reading of Chinese art, as well as his attempt to transcend the limitations of his time and of the Orientalist discourse. In conclusion, we will discuss in what ways this conflict constitutes a fundamental component of the contemporary condition. We are interested in the conflict between the individual voice and the environment, the single person and the ideology that surrounds him or her, and in the dialectical relationship between established knowledge and direct experience.

Author Information
Francesca Pierini, National Chiao Tung University, Taiwan
Philippe Major, National Taiwan University, Taiwan

Paper Information
Conference: ACCS2013
Stream: Cultural Studies

This paper is part of the ACCS2013 Conference Proceedings (View)
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To cite this article:
Pierini F., & Major P. (2013) Reading Chinese Painting: Antonello Trombadori’s China and the Limits of the Contemporary ISSN: 2187-4751 – The Asian Conference on Cultural Studies 2013 – Official Conference Proceedings
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