Painter scores UN exhibit

Updated: 2013-03-28 10:44

By Hu Haidan at the United Nations (China Daily)

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Painter scores UN exhibit

Painter Li Hongtao, who is showing his oil paintings at the United Nations, says the convergence of East and West runs through his works and creation. Hu Haidan / China Daily

For painter Li Hongtao, whose work is on display this week at the United Nations, creativity is mainly about avoiding repetition.

"Innovation is the most important thing in oil painting. Even I could barely copy any of my own paintings," the Chinese artist said at the opening on Tuesday of his exhibit, A Semblance Great: The Shadow of a Shade.

The 38 oil paintings on display are intended to be representative of Li's career.

Li said the theme of East-West convergence runs through his work, which features landscapes and has been described as "postmodern abstract".

Having a show at the UN means that your audience includes many diplomats, and Li didn't disappoint.

"I believe that this exhibition will help enable the world to better feel the pulse of Chinese modern art, and promote artistic innovation which will boost mutual learning and the common prosperity of Chinese and Western cultures," Li Baodong, China's permanent representative to the UN, said at Tuesday's opening ceremony.

He said Li Hongtao has dedicated himself to exploring ways of melding traditional Chinese art with modern and postmodern oil-painting techniques of the West.

"This is the first time I've seen a Chinese artist's exhibition at the United Nations," said Stephen Orlins, president of the National Committee on United States-China Relations. "Exhibitions like this bring China to the American people, bring China and its arts to the people of the United Nations."

Many from outside the world of diplomacy were just as enthusiastic about Li's paintings, characterized by bold brushstrokes and a contrast between profound themes and playful use of color.

Tian Yan, research data manager at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, traveled to New York for the show's opening. A longtime fan of the artist, she was pleased to see his work up close.

"I can't take my eyes off this painting," Tian said, pointing to one of her favorites. "It makes me feel happy and full of positive energy."

Li's work has been recognized internationally and earned the Van Gogh Gold Award. His work has been exhibited at China's National Museum and the National Centre for the Performing Arts, Paris' Louvre and other museums.

The China International Culture Association and S&P (Beijing) Investment Management Co organized the exhibition, which runs through Friday.