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March 25, 2011

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International artists exploring nature

NATURE is a favorite subject especially in traditional Chinese paintings. Titled "Nature and Its Modern Forms," an exhibition currently running at Mingyuan Art Center, features 24 artists from China, Japan, South Korea, Canada, Germany and the United States discussing and exploring modernity under the subject of nature.

According to Zhu Qi, curator of the exhibition and also a renowned art critic, "this exhibition tries to discuss the experimental expression of nature through modern forms including installation, photo, expressionism, video and three-dimensional illusionary computer art."

The subjects cover mountain and river, flower and bird, animal, natural landscape and the modern conceptual art made from natural materials.

"It is a quite academic theme, yet an interesting theme," Zhu explains. "Modernity in Western art is often expressed through the schizophrenia of an industrial society and abstract geographic depiction, which are in contrast with traditional Chinese philosophy and language form, as Chinese philosophy emphasizes the natural trait of human beings and Buddhist harmony."

But this exhibition might be an avant-garde one to find modernity in natural forms.

Barbara Edelstein, an American artist uses the flowing water and linear structure to represent a timeless movement and a spiritual sublimation.

The huge installation featuring daunting petals and leaves, in the shape of the familiar ones usually seen in traditional ink and wash paintings, gives another fresh visual experience to the viewers, and adds a dramatic air to the exhibition space.

Edelstein reveals that she is greatly influenced by Bada Shanren (1625-1705), a famous Chinese ancient painter. "I am particularly inspired by the empty way he arranged the tableau."

Meanwhile, another female Chinese artist, Hong Xin, gives a very modern title to her ink and wash on canvas - "Georges Bataille's Expiry Date" and "Georges Bataille's Tears."

"Bataille felt guilty for his father for a long time, as he thought that his mother and himself abandoned their sick family member," Hong explains. "Living in the present era, we are often bondaged, either by the rules set by ourselves, our parents or the employer. I am thinking if there exists a kind of feeling that is beyond the time limits."

Besides the deep pursuit of ink and wash, some participating artists also try to convey the essence of ink and wash through other media, such as canvas.

Zhao Zhengrong's "A tiny overall" features wild brush strokes in dark gray and white hues, of which the background is quite similar to the feel of traditional spontaneous ink and wash paintings. Zhao shies away from the depiction of nature, land or what he calls "sunshine and blood," but rather the inner "landscape" hidden in the soul of human beings.

"Undoubtedly this is a tough challenge for artists, but I am glad that more and more artists have dealt with the same theme and subject in recent decades," Zhu concludes.

Date: through April 3 (closed on Mondays), 10am-4pm

Address: 3-5/F, 1199 Fuxing Rd M.

Tel: 6473-8383


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