By rejecting chromatic color and unnecessary detail, Guan Dongqi focuses the viewers’ attention on the brush’s assertive, vigorous movement and versatility. With quickly executed strokes, the angular branches contrast with delicately wavering stems.
Ink paintings of the prunus were subtle ways for scholar-artists to demonstrate calligraphic prowess, and thus erudition and cultural knowledge. The link with calligraphy is further enforced with the two inscriptions enmeshed in the composition. Ink prunus has been a genre in Chinese painting since a Buddhist monk traced the moonlit shadow of a tree on his window paper in the early 12th century.