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This report is taken from PN Review 171, Volume 33 Number 1, September - October 2006.

From a Journal R.F. Langley

5 February 2006

 Yesterday we were in London for me to givea reading in the evening, which, for various reasons, was a confused but not altogether poor one. We used the time in the day to see the ‘Three Emperors’ exhibition at the Royal Academy. I went there with no particular expectations, since it has been a long time since I thought about Chinese art and I was assuming that the hanging scrolls I might like would not be in evidence anyway, this being an exhibition of the art of the Manchu emperors, a hundred years too late for the Wu school. In one of the last rooms, however, there was a ‘Landscape after Night Rain’ by Kuncan, 1660, showing the painter’s retreat at Oxhead Mountain, south of Nanking, which seemed sharp on time and place. He made this in the eleventh month, in winter, on the night of the full moon.

 Three huge tilted slabs of rock lead backinto the middle ground on the right, part of a ridge receding there, and they catch the light and make space and solidity. The trees are done with blobs and spottles, in that prickly manner that reminds one of hawthorn. The hollows are filled with mist, after the rain. He is in his hut, front left, and his pet crane is standing outside his door. The nearby temple is further back and central, roofs above trees. A mountain reaches up to the top left corner.

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