Works of Chinese artist featured at UN
Updated: 2014-09-16 11:13
By Amy He at the United Nations(China Daily USA)
Artist and poet Yan Zhen (second from left) with John Ashe (center), president of the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly, at a reception celebrating the launch of Yan's new exhibit at the United Nations headquarters in New York. Left is Yan's wife, right is his daughter. Amy He / China Daily
Chinese poet and painter Yan Zhen was celebrated in New York on Monday at the United Nations headquarters as the artist's works will be on display for the next two weeks as the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly convenes.
Yan's exhibit, The China Story, features paintings spanning the artist's career, and is sponsored by the Global Sustainable Development Foundation, an organization where Yan's daughter, Sheri Yan, serves as CEO.
The exhibit officially began its run on the last day of the 68th session of the General Assembly, and president of the session, John Ashe, spoke at the reception.
"As you can imagine, the combination of being a poet and a painter is quite unique, and Mr Yan seems to have crossed that divide and has been able to meld these two pillars of art," Ashe said.
"His paintings run the gamut from expressionism into a more traditional style," Ashe continued. "He brings east and west together, and for that I thank him. We at the UN can probably learn a lot from him."
Ashe said that he felt that he had benefited from seeing Yan's artwork in person, which he had only previously seen in books.
"It speaks to your talent and perhaps a recognition of that talent very early on, and I think we have benefited from that. I certainly have with today's exhibition. I've seen some paintings in books, but to see them in person brings a certain dimension and a certain power of your paintings," he said.
"I've read your poems," Ashe said, addressing Yan. "And I invite everyone here to do likewise; they will truly understand the power of words and the conveyed meaning through words. We as diplomats do that everyday, but I think it requires a great appreciation of the art and that's why they say diplomacy is the art of the possible."
Yan told China Daily that he felt honored to have his works featured at the United Nations, at "such an esteemed location" because it is a great opportunity for the world to learn more about Chinese art and artistic style.
"This is such a good chance for us because the United Nations obviously is of national - and international - importance. I think many foreigners are not too aware of the changes and evolution in Chinese painting, and this is a chance to show them that there are many differences," he said.
Born in 1930, Yan began his career in the arts as a poet when he published his first book of poems at the age of 24, going on to produce more than 40 works of literature. He was part of the first delegation of Chinese writers to go abroad after the end of the Cultural Revolution, and visited several US cities including San Francisco, New York, Boston and Chicago, giving speeches at colleges like Harvard, Stanford and Columbia.
Yan also painted while he was writing, and his style varied from surrealist portraits and landscapes to abstract expressionism, often combining eastern and western styles. A three-book catalogue of Yan's paintings called The Paintings of the Poet Yan Zhen was published in 2008.
(China Daily USA 09/16/2014 page2)