East meets West painting exhibition opens in New Zealand

Updated: 2014-06-29 15:30


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WELLINGTON -  Two painters presented a joint exhibition here on Friday, highlighting landscape of China and New Zealand in a foreign artist's eye.

Yang Songge, a renowned Chinese artist with a focus on portraying landscape in southwestern China, presented a collection of his works featuring New Zealand after his visited the country in September 2013.

During a four-week stay, he traveled through north to south island, drawing hundreds of sketches, which formed the groundwork of 60 original Chinese paintings depicting New Zealand's breathtaking landscapes.

As a member of China Ethnic Painting Academy, one of his publications was chosen as textbook for art institutes and colleges in China.

Gerda Leenards, a Dutch-born New Zealand artist, contributed to the exhibition her works about southwestern China from the unique perspective of an outsider.

Leenards' works have been on wide display in New Zealand and overseas since 1982. With her subjects spanning the Subantartic Islands, Fiordland, the River Waal in Holland, Wellington Heads and most recently the Li River Region in southwestern China, Leenard's paintings are an extended inquiry into how human beings register landscape.

Her attraction to Fiordland stemmed in numerous expeditions to Doubtful Sound, an bay area in southwestern New Zealand.

"The painting style I developed in Fiordland seemed to relate to early Chinese landscapes I'd seen. In 2007/08 I decided to explore the Karst Mountains in Southern China, an area I knew to have inspired many poets and painters from China's long history."

Gerda became transfixed not by the Peaks but by the absolute stillness of the river, the reflected mountain peaks and bamboo groves.

The one-month exhibition was jointly organized by Chinese embassy in New Zealand and Wellington City Council.

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown visited Beijing in May, agreeing on a cultural exchange through art with Chinese Vice Minister of Culture Ding Wei.

"This pair of artists expands our cultural understanding and experience of China and New Zealand," she said.