Continuity and Evolution: The Idea of “Co-creativity” in Chinese Art


This paper seeks to explore an important characteristic of both traditional and contemporary Chinese art, that is, co-creativity. The author believes that co-creativity is a particular Chinese cultural sensibility that establishes the continuity of Chinese art and allows it to endure despite historical, societal and political changes throughout the centuries. This paper starts with an introduction of the idea of co-creativity in Chinese culture. One of its embodiments is the relationship between yin and yang. Yin and yang both engender and fulfill each other, which is a co-relational and co-creative process. It then analyzes how the idea of co-creativity is demonstrated in traditional landscape painting through the expression of the oneness with nature and invitation to join a journey with the artist. Lastly, it demonstrates this continious co-creative cultural sensibility through analyzing two contemporary artists’ works. The author reads the submissive openness and vulnerability in Chinese female artist Chen Lingyang’s works as a continuity of the co-creative spirit of yin and yang, nature and human. Chen’s work, rooted in her cultural sensibility, expresses a totally different statement of women’s desires and conditions than does that of American feminist artists Judy Chicago and Carolee Schneemann. Likewise, performance artist Ma Liuming’s Fen-Ma Liuming in… series seems inspired by nature’s image of co-creating the world. Different as these works may be in their formal aspects—from painting to poetry, from photography to performance— “co-creativity” is at the heart of Chinese cultural expression.



co-creativity, cultural sensibility, landscape painting, Chen Lingyang, Ma Liuming, feminism

How to Cite

HE, J., 2014. Continuity and Evolution: The Idea of “Co-creativity” in Chinese Art. ASIANetwork Exchange: A Journal for Asian Studies in the Liberal Arts, 21(2), pp.15–23. DOI:


Download PDF









JINLI HE (Trinity University)



Publication details



Creative Commons Attribution 4.0


Peer Review

This article has been peer reviewed.

File Checksums (MD5)

  • PDF: 3d4a0529a3527d4054360bb77fd3df18