-former Director of the National Museum of History
When I look at Shang Tao's work, at how he uses brush and ink to create the Chinese literati painting aesthetics of simplicity and spatial contrast, I tend to forget that he is painting a flower or a certain subject, only noticing the great artistic potential of the ink at the tip of his brush; he is truly an artist of minimalism but also of complex emotions who, as a pioneer and inheritor of aesthetics and Chinese culture, is to be greatly admired.
-Professor, doctoral student adviser, and Curator of the Art Museum at the Central Academy of Fine Arts
Art always returns to aesthetics, especially for ink wash painting.True artistic character should give aesthetic height to the whole artwork, and not just make it “different.” Shang Tao's works, to me, are unforgettable, I think because their spiritual referentiality guides me into the realm of the aesthetic. Aesthetics is an experience, an interaction between mind and object, mind and mind- it may even be “ineffable.” The great image has no form.”“The great image has no form; the great note has no sound”- this belongs to the ideal state of aesthetics, the result of effort, refinement, and genius. The tension inherent in Shang Tao's figures is mainly a tension, not at the visual level, but at the psychological level, perhaps even at the level of cultural implication. Shang Tao's paintings is his spirit of “love and peace.” Despite the fact that he has met with trials and disappointments in life and in art, and even though his paintings can be unique, even idiosyncratic, in form, he has always kept faith in the beauty and kindness of life and art; this can be detected in the “adorable” undercurrent of his form. The huge fish and large birds, giant leaves and big flowers, pandas and toads, even birds of prey, that flow from his brush all seem, in a way, approachable and adorable. Shang Tao's belief in art is: Art should be adorable. The word “adorable” itself evokes the innocence of childhood and doting benevolence; it also connotes perseverance in living. Li Kuchen once said Shang Tao is “raw,” but he added, “Rawness is hard to find. Huang Tingjian pursued it his entire life without achieving it.” Shang Tao also calls himself “simple,” so he cannot but follow his “simplicity” to develop the unique character of his art and the trait of “form,” elevating it to an aesthetics of “image.” But in essence, Shang Tao is more of a scholar- he has that elegance and refinement that accompanies a man of letters. If his art has a special “rawness,” it can be said to be a “rawness” of “great learning,” a classical, scholarly rawness.
藝術的根本歸宿是品味問題，尤其是水墨畫。真正的藝術個性應是一個有品味高度的藝術整體，而不僅僅只是「跟別人不一樣」。我對尚濤作品的不能忘懷，我想主要是有一種精神指向引導著我走進「品味」的境地。品味是一種體驗，一種心與物、心與心的交流，它可能是「只可意會，不能言傳」的。「象」的最高境界是由「品味」來決定，即走進了老子所言的「大象無形」的境地。「大象無形，大音希聲」，這屬於審美的理想境界，它是積聚著努力、修養、天性而最終水到渠成的結果。 尚濤作品「象」之特點在於「大」，具有一種飽滿膨脹的張力。其墨的酣暢，筆的壯健，水的淋漓，空白的厚實，造型的奇崛而雍容，這一切所構成的張力凝結在畫面的結構中而同時撐破具體的畫面，直接進入人們的心靈。這是一種靜態的張力，於內斂、凝聚中現外張、擴展之氣勢，這與那種劍拔弩張的外張力具有本質上的差別。 尚濤圖形所包涵的張力，側重點不在於視覺張力，而更可能是一種心理張力，甚至是文化意味的張力。 尚濤有著一種「仁愛和善」的情懷。儘管，在生活和藝術上他曾經歷不少磨難和失落，也儘管他繪畫的造型可以表現得相當獨特、甚至奇崛古拙，但他對生活和藝術始終有著一種美好和善良的信念，他的造型總蘊藏著一種潛在的氣質–「可愛」。在他筆下的大魚大鳥、大葉大花、貓熊蛙蟾，甚至鷹鷲鵬鵠，總令人覺得有一種可親可近、憨厚可愛之感。尚濤對藝術的信念是：藝術應該是「可愛」的。「可愛」一詞，本身就充滿著童心的天真和慈祥的厚愛，也隱含著百折不撓的生活信念。 李苦禪曾直言尚濤「笨拙」，但又說「笨拙也實在難求。黃庭堅夢想了一輩子仍未能得到」。尚濤也自言自己「笨」，故只能按「笨」的本性來發展自己的藝術個性和「形」的特點，並提升為「象」的品味。但從本質上講，尚濤更具「儒者」–文人學士典雅溫文的氣質。如果說他的畫有一種「笨拙」之妙，那可以說這是一種「大智慧」的「笨拙」，一種充滿文人古雅氣息的「拙」。
-Researcher and member of the Academic Committee at the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts
In Mainland China, Lin Fengmian is undoubtedly the greatest painter to have, through painstaking and wide-ranging comprehensive experimentation, successfully stepped outside the unitary tradition of “poetry, calligraphy, painting, and seal engraving.” Shang Tao's experimental spirit is in some sense similar to Lin Fengmian's. In drawing inspiration from the vital strength of stele and seal engraving, Shang Tao rejects the atmosphere of fragility in calligraphy-by-template; he introduces the decorative qualities of stele and seal engraving and modern block printing into the surface arrangement of ink permeation, so that his art distances itself from traditional formal syntax to ultimately enter into the mainstream of modern Chinese art.
-Professor, doctoral student adviser, and Dean of Graduate Students at the Central Academy of Fine Arts
The birds, flowers, insects, and fish in Shang Tao's grand freehand style are captivating and suggestive, neither flitting nor obsequious, not small scenes but great flowers and birds with great brush- and inkwork, grand and whole. He paints not the transient flower or changing seasons but a perpetual life essence, imbued with ancient purity and resilience. Analyzing his works, we see his masters Li Kuchen and Li Keran and his indirect influences Bada Shanren, Wu Changshuo, and Pan Tianshou. His paintings are deep like Li Keran's, unadorned like Li Kuchen's, bearers of tradition like Wu Changshuo's, unconventional like Pan Tianshou's, and simple like Bada Shanren's, but have something not to be found in these old masters: elements of ancient folk art and planar construction, both foreign and domestic, resulting in a formalism unforgettable to the eye. The grandness, power, and even shock of his grand freehand style bird-and-flower paintings, formally speaking, comes from a number of traits. First, his development of the ancient practice of basing form on lines into basing form on large patches of ink and color: There are still lines, but they have been reduced in number and made rough and robust. Second, he is not confined by large-scale geometry; he reduces the layering of ink and heightens the contrast between angle and curve, heavy and light ink, dryness and moisture.
尚濤的大寫意花鳥蟲魚非常抓人，又耐人玩味，不輕飄，不討好，不是畫小情小趣，而是大筆大墨、大花大鳥、精雄大氣，渾然整體。 他不畫朝花夕拾、四季流轉，而畫一種永恆的生機，有“氣結殷周雪”的古意，有“雨後江山鐵鑄成”的造詣。，他直接的老師有李苦禪、李可染、間接的來源有八大山人、吳昌碩、潘天壽。他的畫，深厚像李可染，渾樸像李苦禪，古厚像吳昌碩，奇崛像潘天壽，簡約像八大山人，但比前輩畫家多了古代民間藝術和平面構成的因素，有中國的，也有外國的，因而多了寓目難忘的形式感。 他的大寫意花鳥畫之所以大氣，有衝擊力甚至震撼力，從形式上看，一是他把古人以線為主的造型手段發展成以大塊墨色為主，儘管仍然有線條，但盡可能減少，而且粗獷雄健。二是他突出了大的幾何型態，減少了用墨的層次，強化了方圓、濃淡、乾溼的對比。
-Professor Emeritus at the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts, founding director of the Guangdong Aesthetics Society
Maybe Shang Tao benefited even more from grandmaster Li Keran, from whom he learned mountains and water. His knowledge resides not in the imitation of brushstrokes, but in the spirit of his art and the cultivation of his method. His use of ink is also innovative. Sometimes it wafts like smoke (Midsummer); sometimes it is settled as if shorn velvet (Swan); and sometimes, a few strokes of dark ink on light ink can bring out a glass-like radiance (White Plum Blossom). The creation of an aesthetics is the lifeblood of painting as an art form.His work is mostly redolent and healthy, brimming with warm emotion: various orchids arrayed together are like a family reunion (The Orchid Family); a large swan playing with a fledgling evokes an cross-generation relationship (Swan); a pair of pigeons wary and alert bring out the stillness of the wild; ... His paintings also reveal innocence and humor, and humor is a rare virtue in both people and in art, for it needs not only a quick wit, but also love and sincerity.
使尚濤得益更多的，是他還曾從一代宗師李可染學習山水。他所得到的益處不在於章法筆墨上的摹倣，而在於藝術的精神和作風的陶冶。 他在用墨方面也有很多創造。有時流動如濃煙《仲夏》：有時凝定如剪絨《天鵝》；有時在晶瑩的淡墨上擦幾筆漆黑的宿墨，煥發出琉璃般的光彩《白梅》。 意境的創新乃是繪畫藝術的生命之所繫。他的畫大多是充實的，茁壯的，洋溢著溫馨的情感－形態各異的蘭科植物陳列在一起，好像是親戚 們聚會《蘭氏家族》；大天鵝和幼禽嬉戲，令人想起兩代人之間的關係《天鵝》；一對鴿子悚神諦聽，更顯得山野的寧靜…。 他的畫裡還時時流露出天真和幽默，無論對於人或對於藝術來說，幽默都是一項難得的品格，因為它不僅需要聰明機智，還需要仁愛與真誠。
-Editor-in-Chief of the Southern Daily, Art Critic
the 2nd National Art Academies Biennial was held at the Guangdong Museum of Art. Of the roughly 400 participating works, which were selected from almost 600 works from 31 province-level art institutes, 10 won the Academic Award. Among these 10 were Comfort and Ease by Shang Tao of the Guangdong Art Institute. In its uncomplicated vertical design, a school of lively fish are merrily swimming in a mountain river. The symbolic red fish, the great swathe of ink comprising the mountain, and the river left white in the middle give rise to a level of cleanliness, serenity, and merriment. The firmness and robustness of the mountain, the unadorned poses of the fish, and the clear contrast of black and white constitute a striking formal beauty that greatly enhances the expressivity of traditional ink wash painting and that augments the essence of the work.
“第二屆全國畫院雙年展”在廣東美術館舉行。參展的約400件作品，是從全國31家省級畫院選送的近600件作品中挑選出來的，最後，又評選出獲“學術獎”的10件精品。這其中，廣東畫院尚濤的《自在》榜上有名。 並不複雜的豎構圖畫面，一群活潑的遊魚，正悠然地遊弋於崇山峻嶺的河川間。那充滿象徵意味的紅顏色遊魚；佔據了宣紙上下部位的大面積積墨山崖；中間留白的江水，組成了一個高潔清淨和悠然自得的境界。山的沉厚雄健，魚的憨拙之態，畫面色彩對比的大黑大白，構成鮮明的形式美感，大大豐富了傳統國畫的表現力，增強了作品的意趣。 書法是幾千年的文化積澱，學書法是對古代美的欣賞。長期的書法課陶冶了尚濤的文化氣質，而這種氣質又潛移默化進入他的畫中。 尚濤入畫最多的如荷如蘭如芭蕉，大多不依靠線條的勾勒而靠厚重的積墨鋪染而成。他畫幅中的物象變形著——變形中顯出拙味，充滿意趣。拙，是尚濤的天性。
-Vice-Dean of and professor at the School of Communication and Design, Sun Yat-Sen University
Looking at Shang Tao's paintings, one is struck by his excellence in inkwork, brushwork, and conceptualization, especially inkwork. The ink leads the brush, the brush hides the ink, and therein lies the concept.
Ink wash art has a limitless attraction, specifically an ineffable but perceptible mystery grounded in Orientalism. If an ink wash artist can successfully achieve the mystery of including yet transcending past, present, subject, and object, then he must be a grandmaster. Shang Tao is such an ink wash grandmaster. The intricate patterns of Li Keran, stringent realism of Jiang Zhaohe, epiphanic inkwork of Li Kuchen, and meticulous brushwork of Ye Qianyu have all been absorbed and integrated by Shang Tao. Shang Tao draws from these sourcewaters and also has broad experience with traditional Chinese calligraphy, ranging from Shang, Zhou, Qin, and Han dynasty utensil inscriptions to Wei, Jin, and Southern states period steles, and the Qing dynasty calligraphy of Bada and Shi Tao- Shang Tao has ruminated on and practiced them all. His unadorned and magnificent calligraphy play a key role in his explorations of and innovations in ink wash painting, permeating his work. This unity of ink and wash, expressed in the works of Shang Tao, naturally overfills with magnificence, tradition, and wonder. This is a reinterpretation of including past, present, subject, and object. (From ArtLinkArt magazine)
水墨藝術作品魅力無窮，其中有一種基於東方意象的難以言喻又可感知的神秘境界。如果一位水墨藝術家能夠成功地營造出一個有古有今、有我有他，而又無古無今、無我無他的神祕境界，那麼他必定是一位大家。尚濤就是這樣一位水墨藝術大家。 水墨的這種同一性，表現在尚濤的藝術作品中，就是自然而然的充溢著大氣、高古又不乏意趣的格調。這是一種有古有今、有我有他的再創造。 （本文轉載自「收藏與鑒賞」雜誌）
大中華 大氣度 大寫意─
- Secretary-General of the Arts Committee, China Artists Association
His distinction being that a singular trait is worth more than the best excellence.
- former Director of the China National Academy of Painting
All of the paintings of the old artists combined cannot compete with his bird-and-flower paintings; they are three-dimensional, full of tension, but display the results of the effort he spent in his academy years, as well as the merits and affects of Chinese and Western art that he has absorbed. I hope he continues in the future to a great freehand style, a great China, great reform, great spirit-so great that it terrifies.
- Professor of Art History at the Central Academy of Fine Arts, expert on modern art
His aesthetics of greatness is a naturally powerful, solid aesthetics.
- Professor at the China Academy of Art
Shang Tao's paintings are not in the old style, nor the ancient style, nor the Western style, but are of our people, are modern, and have personal and Chinese characteristics-they are unique, not only in our country, but throughout the world.
- Professor at the China Academy of Art
Shang Tao's freehand style paintings are unique. His large freehand style bird-and-flower paintings are very interesting, not adrift, not pandering, but with great brushstrokes, great ink, great flowers, great birds-with audacity and wholeness, an eternal vitality, an achievement of indomitable spirit. His paintings are as deep as Li Keran's, as natural as Li Kuchen's, as simple as Bada Shanren's, but with more arrangement, more unforgettable form. He paints not realism but images of mind, or, one might even say, culture and refinement.
- Professor at Tsinghua University
Shang Tao displays all the training that he has received at the High School of Fine Arts and the School of Chinese Painting, Central Academy of Fine Arts, integrating the traditional, the modern, and the decorative to his advantage. His characteristic trait is a strong and transformative visual sense.
- Editor at the China Artists Association
His artistic quality can be expressed with a phrase from Qi Baishi: “Crisscrossed, lopsided, and estimably natural.” His paintings are admirable for being very liberated, very unpretentious. He uses brush and ink very well, has abundant variations, fills his surface with tension, and titles his works with only a couple of characters-very interesting.
- Vice-Chair of the Chinese Fine Art Committee of the China Artists Association, and the Vice-Director of the Chine Painting Academic Society
His paintings remind me that the character of a painting reflects the character of its painter. Shang Tao is very loyal, very practical, a man of humble wisdom. Thus, his paintings are deep and solid, earthy, unadorned, and full of tension. Shang Tao's paintings are like Qin and Han stone engravings, like bronze inscriptions, in their power and in how each line is engraved onto the paper; no line drifts away. Also, Shang Tao shows the influence of Li Keran in using layered ink to paint bird-and-flower paintings; in all of history, Shang Tao is the only one to paint them so well.
-Member of the Chinese National Academy of Arts
Shang Tao's paintings are a classic example of a strengthened character and simplified form. His character is prominent, audacious and natural, masculine and great, and has an inner strength not easily displayed. Li Kuchen says of his character that he is rough and practical. I am also reminded of Pan Tianshou's “strong bones,” an inner strength in his refined character that manifests itself formally in simplified structure, stylization, and color to constitute his unique style. In the words of Xu Beihong, he “stands by his beliefs and does things his own way,” persevering on his own path.
-Professor at the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Chief Editor of World Art magazine
Shang Tao's paintings are very difficult to emulate in that his bird-and-flower paintings have their own look.
-Famous contemporary painter calligraphy and seal carver
In his paintings, even a stone has texture, so that what appears to be a minimalist form is in fact brimming with cultivation, ability, and effort; the positioning and content of Chinese characters are all displays of character. He uses a modern form imbued with his own perceptive, deep, and poetic sensibilities.
-Researcher, Director of Theory Research, professor, and doctoral student adviser at the School of Art of the China Art Institute
Much of his subject matter is personified: birds, bears, frogs, even flowers; one flower painting is called Blooming, and everything in it is personified, even the plants. It leaves a deep impression.
-Professor at the Beijing Language and Culture University, President of the Jiang Zhaohe Art Research Society
He has been a student of so many masters, yet his work bears no trace of them, for he has integrated them to create his own art; he has attained the enlightenment of absorbing them into his blood, and that is something valuable.
-Professor at the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts
Two artists utilize traditional brush- and inkwork very well: One is Pan Tianshou, who focuses more on brushwork; the other is Shang Tao, who focuses on inkwork.
-Chairman of the Guangdong Artists Association
Shang Tao the person has great taste, and so does his work, even more so his attitude toward life. This taste evokes tension of the spirit, giving us a virile power. His ink patches and his sense of fullness also give us a strong spiritual power.
- reporter for China Reform Daily
His works interpret his youthful inner world:Appreciating Shang Tao's work, one can intensely feel the soul of true art, not just in the superficial skill and vehicle, but in the vivid vitality that the painter's thought and passion injects into his art.
- Consultant to the China Artists Association, Vice-Chair of the Guangdong Federation of Literary and Art Circles, and Honorary Chair of the Guangdong Artists Association
Beauty from sincerity often has both charisma and gravity: This gravity comes from nothing other than the high moral ground of being sincere. To paint a delicate flower requires heavy and condensed brushwork; to paint an elegant leaf of a flower requires simple and fluid inkwork; to evoke small objects requires heavy lines; to paint dry branches requires a wet and thick brush; if one paints fruits with pure, saturated color, use black ink to juxtapose the surrounding area—all of these show the wonder of “contrast,” and this “wonder” is precisely the harmony of contrast! The difficulty of this harmony lies in its “sense of proportion.” One can achieve powerful spirit in putting one's soul into a small painting.
由誠實而產生的美感，往往既有魅力，又有重量：這重量恰恰產生於誠實所包涵的高尚品德之中。 好的花鳥畫應是畫家心中的花、鳥，絕非我們眼見的花、鳥！ 畫水嫩鮮靈的花兒，以厚重凝煉的筆致出之；畫錦繡斑爛的花葉，以單純淋漓的水墨出之：小小的物象用重重的線條勾勒：乾乾的樹枝用溼溼的濃筆書寫：花果用了飽和熱烈的純色來刻劃，周圍就用水墨來烘托……：這種種，就是“對比”的妙趣，而那「妙」字正是對比之中的和諧！這和諧難就難在有「分寸感」。以大胸懷入小幅畫，能得氣勢之壯。
- Dean, School of Communication and Design, Sun Yat-Sen University
Master Shang's works are unadorned, unconventional, graceful, and magnanimous. The former two words describe their appearance; the latter two their achievement.
- Professor, South China Normal University; art critic
I find that Shang Tao's achievement lies not only in the uniqueness of his style, but also, if one considers his work in carefully, in the innovations that he has made in the use of ink and brush in traditional Chinese painting to express affect. In the design of his fish, birds, and other subjects, there are new, contemporary elements..