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December 28, 2011

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Chinese painter says no to 'Chinese' label

IN the view of painter Cao Pei'an, trying to combine Eastern and Western art is folly.

The Chinese artist who has lived in Belgium for around 20 years is holding a solo exhibition of 70 watercolors and acrylics at Liu Haisu Art Museum through January 4.

The show is one of the events marking the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Belgium.

In 1985, Cao was the youngest member of the Shanghai Artists' Association and in 1992 he went to Belgium to study.

"I abandoned what I had in Shanghai at that time; I was a penniless man arriving in a foreign land," he says.

While studying at the Belgian Royal Academy of Fine Arts, he pondered the question of merging Eastern and Western art.

"Let me use this example: If a Chinese girl is married to a Westerner, their child is hybrid," he says, "but we can't say the child is purely Chinese or Western."

Cao says there is no need to emphasize his Chinese heritage or incorporate Chinese symbols in his work.

"I am seeking an art expression based on my experience, temperament and preference," he says. "I hate to hear that viewers find the trace of an overseas Chinese artist in my paintings."

Saying good-bye to Chinese symbols and themes has not hindered his achievements in Europe where he has won numerous awards; these include the Prize Prestige of the International Watercolor Painting Competition in Arles, France, in 2000, the Prize Prestige in Bretagne in 2001 and the Prize Prestige in Lyon in 2002.

Cao says he will create a work to mark the Dialogue between China and the European Union next year.

Date: Through January 4, 10am-4pm

Address:1660 Hongqiao Rd


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