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]


The most famous interpretation of the prose is Nymph of the Luo River by Gu Kaizhi, a celebrated painter of the Eastern Jin Dynasty ( AD 317-420). Gu's work also ranks as one of the top 10 traditional paintings in Chinese art history.

"Gu is my idol. His representation of the nymph and the legend is flawless. I need to blaze a new trail by infusing modern elements into the original characters. So I integrate this classical story with contemporary art style."

During the early stage of her creation, Ye spent half a year traveling hundreds of miles to different libraries and museums. She went through relevant documents and paintings to ensure the historical accuracy of her illustrations. She also hopes that readers can feel the personal touch she bestowed upon every character.

"I have invested a lot of energy in recreating the central figure of the tale, the Goddess of Luo," Ye said. "After studying the paintings of Gu Kaizhi and Dunhuang murals, I made a bold decision of portraying the goddess with partial nudity. I want to depict a fresh image of the goddess, combining the traits of both Taoism and Buddhism."

"The accessories and clothes are carefully chosen according to the prose and other historical documents. Cao Zhi explains that the goddess wears gold and emerald jewelries with bright pearls to add radiance to her body. I think the most natural matter may as well be the most radiant one. That is why I replaced the jewels with water splashes, which flow and glitter in the sunshine," Ye added.

Almost every supporting figure and every piece of accessory in this illustration series are designed by Ye herself. "For instance, I created the goldfish next to the goddess to serve as an embodiment of her emotions. This is a technique rarely used in traditional Chinese paintings."

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