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Exhibition offers glimpses into traditional Chinese art

Shenzhen Daily



Visitors admire paintings at the Art Museum of Guangming Culture and Art Center in Guangming District. 

A total of 133 pieces of Chinese calligraphic works and paintings by 65 contemporary masters are on display at the Art Museum of Guangming Culture and Art Center through this Sunday, offering a comprehensive perspective on traditional Chinese fine arts in our modern era.

Co-organized by Guangming's local government and the Shenzhen painting academy attached to Rongbaozhai, a Beijing-based art studio dealing in Chinese paintings, calligraphy and seals, the art show features the works of such painters as Xing Shaochen and Zhang Fuxing and such calligraphers as Cui Wei.

The predecessor of Rongbaozhai, whose present name was adopted in 1894, was the Songzhuzhai studio that was founded in 1672. Rongbaozhai, with a prominent history of 351 years, today is a leader in China's art industry. Keeping in mind its mission of carrying on the treasured fine arts traditions as well as reviving and transforming them in contemporary settings, Rongbaozhai founded its painting academy.

For nearly two decades, the academy has brought together contemporary Chinese painting and calligraphy masters and scholars, fostering learning and exchanges in the field, according to Tang Hui, president of the academy. Adapting to the evolving needs of art education, the academy has also trained thousands of young talents in calligraphy and Chinese painting.

While the exhibition on the second floor of the venue provides a stage for young talents in Chinese arts, its major appeal arises from the works of veteran artists.

Xing, born in 1955 in Beijing and best known for his free-style flower-and-bird paintings, exhibits several pieces at the show. A notable piece, titled "Fu Lu Shuang Ji" ('Two Tokens of Bliss and Fortune"), plays on the pun of Chinese characters and depicts two roosters standing under gourds on a vine.

The black plumages of the roosters contrast strikingly against their red crowns, and the gourds in various shades of pale yellow hang leisurely from entangled black vines that are reminiscent of Chinese calligraphy.

Another piece also from Xing depicts a white crane near a blurred background of pine trees and plum blossoms, which is a typical theme of traditional Chinese paintings.

Unlike many Chinese flower-and-bird painters who try to mimic the works of Qi Baishi and create sweet likable depictions of rural life that evoke nostalgia in the viewers, Xing's style draws heavily from the aesthetic of Chinese calligraphy and represents his subjects in a more striking and bigger-than-life style. His works, with a more ancient look, often impress the viewers with its sophisticated use of mellow colors and vivid depiction of their subjects.

Lu Yushun, president of the China National Academy of Painting, is representative of Chinese painters born in the 1960s. A free-style landscape painting from Lu on display depicts the majestic sceneries of lakes, waterfalls and cloud-shrouded green mountains. The delicate colors are typical of the Chinese aesthetic, while the free-style brushwork is reminiscent of the paintings of impressionists in the West.

On the afternoon of Nov. 18, the day when the exhibition opened, a seminar was held in which artists and scholars shared their thoughts on how to inherit and innovate on the treasured Chinese art traditions.

Since its opening in September 2020, the Guangming Culture and Art Center, a landmark of the district, has regularly held free exhibitions, workshops and seminars to reach out to the public and enrich the local cultural scene.

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