Young illustrator re-imagines Chinese poetic prose

By Li Wenrui | | 2017-06-01 09:30


Young illustrator re-imagines Chinese poetic prose

Ye Luying's illustration of An Ode to the Goddess of Luo [Photo provided to]


An Ode to the Goddess of Luo is a poetic prose by Cao Zhi, a renowned poet and essayist of the Han Dynasty ( AD 25-220). The poet narrates his encounter with the astonishingly beautiful Goddess of Luo, how they fall in love with each other, and the inevitable sad ending to their romance.

A series of illustrations created by post-90s illustrator Ye Luying has recently drawn people's attention to this Chinese prose.

Ye is an independent illustrator and designer, who studied at the China Academy of Art and Oslo National Academy of the Arts. She has already published several picture books prior to the goddess of Luo series.

"It has always been my dream to become a painter. I grew up as the only child in my family and my paintbrush was my pal," Ye said. "Painting serves as an indispensable part of my life. In some way, my work is me."

"My first inspiration to recreate An Ode to the Goddess of Luo derived from my overseas experience. Being detached from my cultural upbringing and familiar surroundings provided me a unique opportunity to reflect on my cultural roots. I think that moment of revelation guided me to return to traditional Chinese literature and appreciate the beauty of it."

Cao Zhi's prose is commonly known as a love story full of pathos. But from Ye's point of view, the emotions it harbors are much stronger and more complex.

"An intoxicating dream ends and people will eventually face the reality. An Ode to the Goddess of Luo portrays the love within sight but beyond reach, which echoes a universal sense of loneliness. I was so touched by its slight tinge of sorrow when I first read it," Ye said.

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