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Clarity and beauty from an indistinct style

MANY famous artists have painted the leisurely life scenes of ancient Chinese ladies in oils or inks.

It is a popular subject. But the constant repetition of the theme brings a problem - if there is no signature, how can viewers distinguish which painting was created by which artist?

This is not a problem for Leng Hong, a veteran Chinese artist who furthered his art career in Europe as early as in 1986.

Leng's solo exhibition featuring 20 of his latest canvases is running at the Liu Haisu Art Museum through May 7.

Organized by the Shanghai Overseas Chinese Affairs Office, the exhibition had a lot of visitors on its first day, a rare thing for the art museum situated in the Gubei area.

"I am very nervous having this exhibition back in my hometown, although I have had many before all over the world," Leng says. "But for me, this one is special, as some of my teachers and classmates are here. The dream of art drove me to see the outside world before, but now it's time for me to come home."

Born in 1955, Leng is a graduate from the fine art department of the Shanghai Theater Academy.

His canvas perfectly balances the aesthetic tastes of the East and the West.

Leng applies his "implicative brushstrokes" normally seen in ink-wash paintings on oil and creates indistinct scenes of a bygone era.

The artist does not clearly depict or outline figures, furniture or small objects to flash his painting techniques like some others who deal with the same subjects.

What he is concerned about is the unique and mysterious Oriental ambience that permeates the canvases.

It doesn't matter that the traditionally dressed lady with pinned-up hair and her servant are cast in a middle of "history."

Here, the artist shows that history is not something that can be analyzed - each spectator has his or her own vision and idea about the past.

Many people say that Leng's canvases are reminiscent of the faded Dunhuang murals which unveil the ordinary life of ancient Chinese people with an eternal beauty.

Date: through May 7 (closed on Monday), 9am-5pm

Address: 1660 Hongqiao Rd


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