Although many traditional painting and decorative genres, such as bird and flower (花鳥画), were banned, landscapes, were allowed as long as they contained revolutionary imagery. Thus, artists continued to paint the rivers, craggy peaks, and misty mountains associated with traditional Chinese landscape, or shanshui (山水), ink compositions but added revolutionary elements alluding to China’s industry and agriculture to make their works politically correct. For example, wild mountain peaks, which in Chinese ink painting tradition were associated with the home of Buddhist hermits or reclusive literati scholar-officials, were instead dotted with oil wells, red flags, and power lines to highlight China’s industrial advances. Other examples feature factories and mines nestled within the broader landscape, while some ceramics show verdant fields with agricultural machinery and laboring peasants. In certain cases, the artists have depicted industrial or agricultural projects close-up, presenting a harmonious and idealized image of Chinese production.
These examples of painted vessels and plaques illustrate the adaptation of tradition and the continued appreciation for old genres despite the political and ideological upheaval of the Cultural Revolution. These works, many of which are meticulously painted— with detailed brushwork and sensitive treatment of color— and signed, highlight the technical prowess of the ceramic painters who specialized in these genres.