Related News

Home » Feature » Animal Planet

Recreating a garden of childhood memories

TRADITIONAL ink-wash painter Ye Fang has taken classical Chinese garden as his preferred art form and using modern elements to re-envision the garden where he grew up in Suzhou.

Ye's private garden in Suzhou, a city famous for ancient gardens in Jiangsu Province, has become famous worldwide and a must-see for garden aficionados and celebrities. Though it is not open to the public, selected cultural events are held there.

For those who cannot visit, Ye has created a video, models, and paintings of his garden for an exhibition "Nature Rarified at the Museum of Contemporary Art."

It runs through November 14.

The exhibition looks back at Ye's path to garden design, culminating in his 500-square-meter garden completed in 2003. It contains 700 symbolic rocks and stones and numerous plant varieties. Though it is contemporary, it draws on traditional models found in the paintings of the Tang (AD 618-907) and Song (960-1278) dynasties.

Ye's current project is building a Chinese garden in Venice for the Venice Biennale. He started on March 12 and the grand compound is expected to be done a year later. According to Ye, the garden will occupy 600 square meters with pavilions and rock mountains. All the basic construction work will be done in Suzhou, and later be transported to Venice.

Ye, born in 1962, grew up in a famous Suzhou garden known as Bi Yuan, built by his great grandfather.

"I was born in the garden and raised in the garden," said Ye.

However, he and his family were forced to leave their garden in the "cultural revolution" (1966-76).

The emotional link between Ye and the old garden has never faded. In his new garden, and reflected in the exhibition, he conjures up an aura that is poetic and elegant and revives the essence of Chinese philosophy.

The sensitivity of his art is reflected in every aspect of the new garden - the gates and walkways, the pavilions, the flowing water, the rock mountains and even the decoration on the bridge.

"I totally relax in my garden every day," he said. "As I meander along the paths, all my childhood memories return. This is a pure world of my own, and ideal world of my own. I am fortunate that I could create it."

The "Nanshipiji" garden, named after its location, became a sensation when it was completed. He has called it a methodology for thinking and a gateway to a world lost in time.

But it is fused with a modern sensibility.

"The garden brings to physical experience the roots of Chinese civilization, which emphasizes the connectedness between heaven, earth and humanity as expounded by the sages," said Samuel Kung, director at the Museum of Contemporary Art.

"His garden soaks into the architectural imagination of the public, and is beyond the scope of the exhibition," he said.

The spotlight of the exhibition is an exhibit capturing scenes from the garden, accompanied by melodies played on traditional Chinese instruments. Visitors can hear drops of water, chirps of birds, splashes of fish in the pond and wind in the trees.

Garden is a central aspect of traditional Chinese culture, a place for contemplation and creation, a place beloved by the literati.

Suzhou contains many spectacular ancient gardens and nine of them are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Cultural sites.

Ye's contemporary garden has become an elegant venue for tea parties and high fashion salons.

Ye invites friends - writers, poets, columnists, painters, musicians, foreign diplomats and museum curators - to his garden.

There they discuss culture, savor tea and food, admire seasonal flowers, and listen to Kunqu Opera, one of the oldest forms of Chinese opera.

Date: through November 14 (closed on Monday), 10am-6pm

Address: Gate 7, inside People's Park, 231 Nanjing Rd W.

Admission: 20 yuan


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend