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My heart follows

2021-02-24

On 21th Feb. 2021, a bilingual lecture was given by Zhou Changu Art Museum to a group of children at age six to 13.As the volunteer teacher, I named this lecture “My heart follows" based on the art exhibition on set, "Classic of the times by Lu Yanshao, Song Wenzhi and Zhou Changu." It also meant that my heart followed three great Chinese painters, and I wished to pass the Chinese culture to the young generation.During the lecture, I mainly talked about how to appreciate the Chinese Paintings, such as the arrangement of the pictures, poem, calligraphy and seals.Both Lu Yanshao and Song Wenzhi had created many landscape paintings according to Tang Poem of ancient China. Such as painting“轻舟已过万重山”by Mr.Song Wenzhi. The name of this art work is from well-known poem “Leaving the White King’s town at dawn by Li Bai.He also painted many pictures of Southern China. Such as “江南春”,it matched Bai Juyi’s poem, “Dreaming of the Southern Shore”.After listening to the lecture and visiting the real masterpieces on set, Children were satisfied and contented. Their eyes shone, their faces were bright with happy and sweet smiles. They learnt not only how to appreciate the traditional Chinese paintings and poems but also the language of English.As the saying goes, “The old must make way for the young.” Children are the future of our country, and it is my great honor to equipment them   with a sense of perspective of our great culture. Let them to promote the traditional culture in the future.

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The Charm of Ink and Wash---Painting named“Wife and son of a recluse”by Min Xuelin(闵学林)Written By Krista Chen 2022/6/19A person should learn to appreciate some art masterpieces in his lifetime. Through paintings, not only can we improve our aesthetic taste of art, but also learn about the rich history and culture of a nation.Today, I’d like to introduce a Chinese flower-and –bird Painting“Wife and son of a recluse梅妻鹤子” by Mr. Min Xuelin to you. Mr. Min was born in Nanchang, Jiangxi Province. In 1980, he graduated from the Department of Chinese Painting of Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts, the graduate class of flower –and- bird. Currently he is a professor and doctoral supervisor of China Academy of Art, member of Chinese Artists Association, member of Chinese Calligraphy Association, council member of China Bada Shanren Research Association, honorary chairman of Hangzhou Artists Association.A legendary tale says that a single man, never married, named Lin Bu (林逋), also called He Jin(和靖)longed for the carefree life of a hermit, he lived in seclusion on a lonely mountain by West Lake, planting plum trees and raising cranes. He was a good poet and writer but never kept any of his writings, tearing them up right after penning them. He loved plum blossoms like his wife and his cranes as sons. In his poetry collection, he had eight poems of plum blossoms, collectively called “The Eight Plums on the Lonely Mountain”. Su Shi once said in his poem "Written after the Poetry of Lin Bu": "Mr.Lin is an extraordinary person, unstained by worldliness" Lin Bu loved plum blossoms, and also lived himself into a tree of plum blossoms, which is still fragrant to this day. This story has been a timeless classic of Chinese traditional painting.Here are a few of what I think are the most impressive aspects upon Mr. Min Xuelin’s painting. First, Mr. Min inherited the tradition of Chinese flower-and –bird painting. His works absorbed good skills of the masters, such as Xugu, Pan Tianshou, and Wu Changshuo. The painting “Wife and son of a recluse”still pay attention to the balanced expression of shape and interest of brush and ink. Second, the artist is very skillfully in using the various colors of ink. For example, on the lower left side of the picture are bamboo branches stretching upward and rightward, in the middle of the picture lie the plum branches with blooming green bud and flowers. The cranes are flapping its wings on the lower right side. Zhang Yanyuan of the Tang Dynasty wrote in his famous book《Paintings of all Dynasties》: “Ink is transported and the five colors are provided.”  “Five colors” created a well-proportioned space between bamboo leaves and plum blossoms. Third,crane heads colored with vermilion together with green plum blossom enriched the colorless picture. White is known as “six color” in Chinese paintings. Here white dots created a winter scene,giving us a carefree, peaceful snowbound world. What’s more, the calligraphy and seals highlighted the content of the picture. Finally,the Chinese characters “mei qi he zi” give us the thoughts which the painter wanted to express directly. It is not the same as the “Mei qi he zi” pictures we see in other places, there is no people on this picture. Ancient Chinese painters loved to paint plum, orchid, bamboo and chrysanthemum, renowned in Chinese culture as the “four gentleman.” They are believed to represent the character of human beings. Plum blossoms have always been highly appreciated by Chinese literati and scholars because the plum flower is not afraid of the cold, blossom all alone in the chilly snowfall. It also symbolizes the renewal of all things, peace, and happiness. Its flowers are small, but they are very beautiful, so it means beauty, representing beautiful women. Bamboo, a beloved plant in traditional Chinese culture, was dubbed one of the “Three companions in winter”, along with plum blossom and pine tree. Bamboo is straight in form, breakable but not easily bendable. It represents moral integrity. Bamboo joints never stop growing, symbolizing endeavor. Bamboo is hollow inside, which coincides with the Chinese phrase for humility. With no blossom, and unadorned year round, it is considered plain and pristine.In the traditional Chinese form of painting, the combination of plum blossoms and bamboo on one picture is called “mei zhu shuang Qing”.

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An exhibition of 70 excellent Zhejiang Flower-and -bird Paintings is open to the public from May 18 until June 30 in the Zhou Changgu(周昌谷) Art Museum. The Paintings were painted by students and colleagues of Mr. Zhou Changgu during his lifetime. Among them, the eldest is now 85 while the youngest 68. They are Zhu Yingren(朱颖人), Ye Shangqing(叶尚青) , Lu Kunfeng(卢坤锋), Du Manhua(杜曼华), Ma Qikuan(马其宽), Xu JiaChang(徐家昌), Zhang Hao(张浩), Zhang Huasheng(张华胜), Min Xuelin(闵学林), He Shuifa(何水法), Wu Jingchu(吴静初). These artists inherited the fine painting skills of the flower-and-bird paintings from Mr. Zhou Changgu.               The exhibition provides a chance for the local to better appreciate and understand the Chinese flower- and- bird painting. It has also updated my knowledge of Chinese painting.Their paintings are featured with different styles. Aside from flowers and birds, and delicate seal marks, calligraphy and poems, among the common subjects in this genre are trees, vegetables, fruits, animals, insects and stones. With regard to styles, there are two different schools in Chinese traditional painting: Fine brushwork(工笔画) and freehand brushwork(写意画). “Fine brushwork” is a traditional Chinese realistic painting characterized by fine brushwork and close attention to details. In an example such as Du Manhua’s (杜曼华) picture, << Rest小憩>>. We can see some birds resting on the rock surrounded by daffodils. The picture has a lovely composition and beautiful colors. It provides the viewer with a warm and sweet feeling. This painting fully embodies the charm of women artists’ character; careful and perfect.   The “boneless method” (工笔画没骨画法)is one of the forms of the Fine brushworks as can be seen in the painting  <<The snow white windmill jasmine晓来露华凝雪>> by He Shuifa(何水法), There are no outlines of the flowers, color is very important in the creation, and then calligraphy and seals create the finishing touches, opposed to the blank space left in the upper right corner. We can read the poem on the left upper side, the written poetry helps us better understand the painter and his attitude to life and gives more details about what the painter wants to express. It compared the white windmill jasmine to butterfly, planted in the courtyard, near the window, the color white like snow, pure and unique. We Chinese consider this the best way to show appreciation of the nature. 一团春色,晓来露华凝雪,宜伴黄昏月。文杏夭桃争艳,总觉芳菲别瑶台。重叠玲珑,摇曳个个,晶球戏飞蝶。还似云屏偎玉,不忍轻攀折。依我碧槛纱窗,静对真清绝。Freehand brush work of the painting <<cockscomb鸡冠花>>by Wu Jingchu(吴静初)combined ink and color to create a perfect image of the flower. The use of ink and color reaches heart’s content; we can see the influence of Qi Baishi(齐白石) and Wu Changshuo(吴昌硕). Besides, in Chinese, the character “冠” means hat, also pronounces “官” , which means “officer” in English, therefor, red cockscomb has the meaning of flourishing, good fortune and a promotion to a higher position.  However, there is no absolute divide between the two schools. From the painting <<碧云>>by Xu JiaChang(徐家昌), we can see that the artist concentrated on true and accurate description of object, the flower is outlined and detailed with color, he also used freestyle to draw the cat and bamboo. (兼工带写), Common people see colors on the surface level, the level of eyes, but artists choose the doors to the souls, to our heart. Ye Shangqing’s (叶尚青) picture <<bird鸟>> and Min Xuelin’s(闵学林)picture <<If winter comes, can spring be far behind 冬天来了,春天还会远吗>> mainly used ink to draw very simple lines, shapes and dots.        It is considered that the highest state of Chinese painting has “no colors”. Just using ink and water, and any kinds of objects can be drawn on Chinese paper, and creates a certain calm, simple, and elegant sense of beauty. This kind of painting also has a strong philosophical background. As the Daoist saying goes “Five colors make people blind.” the highest state is simplicity and returning to authenticity. So less is more, and the fewer colors the better.Qi Baishi(齐白石), a celebrated Chinese painter once said: “The excellence of a painting lies in being alike, yet unlike. Too much likeness flatters the vulgar taste; too much unlikeness deceives the world. As artists, they have mastered perfect ink techniques of drawing. However, the journey is long, successful people understand learning never stops, and there are still many possibilities for further development or changing of their painting styles in the future.

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The Lantern Festival is celebrated on the 15th day of the first month of Chinese Lunar calendar. On this day people usually eat a traditional food --- sweet dumplings made of glutinous rice flour in round shape. They are usually made of sesame, nuts, rose, and jujube paste. The round shape symbolizes family reunion and happiness in Chinese.                  At 2:30 p.m. on February 15, 2022, a celebration of the Lantern Festival was held in the Yueqing Museum. The first part of the activity was to make lanterns. Parents and children made lanterns together, which not only enriches family life, but also enable children to experience folk culture.The Chinese lantern is one of the tradition Chinese handicrafts. The Tradition of watching lantern in the Lantern Festival has started since the western Han Dynasty and gained prevailing influence in the Tang Dynasty. As today, the red lantern has become a symbol of traditional Chinese culture. It has been listed as the Intangible Culture Heritage of China. Then, at 7:30 p.m. Wanyun(婉韵) Children's club of opera brought local citizen a wonderful performance of Yue Opera. You may have enjoyed Beijing Opera before; however, understanding the Yue Opera has been a big headache for the young generation. It is especially true if Children have no chance to experience it at school. So it is really interesting and exciting for Children.As the second largest opera in China, Yue Opera originated in Shengzhou, Zhejiang Province and later developed in Shanghai. It absorbed the great achievements of Kunqu Opera and Shao Opera. On May 20, 2006, it was approved by the State Council to be included in the first batch of national intangible cultural heritage lists.Yue Opera is good at lyricism, consists of singing, gestures, dazzling costumes, colorful facial make-ups. Its performance is really touching, elegant and refined. Many works of Yue opera have romantic themes, mainly tells the story of "talented men and beautiful women", and there are many artistic genres. Famous Yue Opera performing artists, such as, Yuan Xuefen (Yuan School), Yin Guifang (Yin School), and Fan Ruijuan (Fan School). ), Fu Quanxiang (Fu school), Xu Yulan (Xu school), etc. The most popular plays, such as “Butterflies”, “A Dream of Red Mansions”, “He Wenxiu”, “Jasper Hairpin”, “Fish Chasing”, were a huge draw.    Tea culture, one of the representations of Chinese culture, refer to the cultural characteristics formed in the process of tea-drinking, including tea ceremony, tea virtues ( health, happiness, refreshment, harmony, respect, beauty), tea spirits (purity, respect, harmony, truth), tea couplets, tea classics, tea sets, tea paintings, tea study, and stories and art of tea.The organizer also invited Mr. Lin Jianchun, a provincial representative inheritor, to served audiences with Yandang Maofeng Tea. Yandang Maofeng Tea, known as "YanMing" in ancient times, has a history of more than 1600 years, also a tea of tribute for more than 500 years. The shape of tea leaves is fine and slightly curved emerald green; the soup color is tender green and bright; the aroma is fragrant and long; the taste is fresh and sweet".  How delightful it is to enjoy the Lantern Festival at Yueqing Museum with so many people men and women, children and adults gather together as a big family!

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