New Chinese dream in traditional ink

Updated: 2013-11-01 07:36

By HU HAIDAN in New York (China Daily USA)

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What’s the first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions Chinese culture? Kung fu? Delicious food? The Great Wall? Well, whatever it is, ink painting should be right up there.

A new exhibit at the National Arts Club shows why.

Entitled Ink-Chinese Dream, the show, which opened Oct 30, features the work of 15 contemporary Chinese artists.

"We are striving to bring vivid, diverse, and intellectual ink paintings to all of you, with the hope that the quality, the depth, and the aesthetic value of Chinese art will be presented on an international stage such as the New York City," said Li Yang, a member of the China Artists Association (CAA), which co-sponsored the show with the Chinese Cultural Foundation (CCF) and the Beijing International Cultural and Creative Industry.

Li said that introducing Chinese ink painting to the outside world has always been a dream of the CAA, and "that dream was now achieved".

"I believe that this exhibition will further the communication, cooperation, and friendly exchange between the art worlds of China and the US," he said. "This exhibition will certainly promote mutual understanding and friendship so that both China and the US will be able to appreciate the Chinese dream as portrayed in these ink paintings."

The Chinese dream varies from artist to artist.

Li Aiguo, an art professor at Peking University, for instance, who created an ink painting featuring a Mongolian child, said his dream was to preserve ethnic culture.

"In the process of ethnic integration, ethnic features should be preserved. The whole nation will then be diversified," Li explained. "The US is a melting pot of diverse cultures, and is very sensitive to the preservation of ethnic features. The preservation of ethnic tradition is not only a Chinese dream, but also a dream shared by all nations in the world."

Elizabeth Wang, president of CCF, said the foundation was honored to host the exhibit at the National Arts Club, which has a tradition of bringing in top artists from all over the world.

Wang noted that in 1966 Cheng Ji, a Chinese oil painter, became the first Chinese artist to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from the NAC in its 115 year history.

Chinese American architect I.M. Pei (Bei Yuming) was the second.

Sun Guoxiang, China's consul general in New York, was also present at the opening. "Ink painting represents the best of Chinese painting," he said. "It distinguishes itself from Western painting by focusing on the artist’s emotions and imagination.

"To become a master of ink painting requires many years of dedication," he added. "I believe these paintings will provide an opportunity for our American friends to get a better understanding of Chinese art and culture.

"Culture exchange plays such an important role in building a new model of major country relations between China and the US in the future," Sun concluded.

The exhibition will run through Nov 3.

Wan Li contributes to this story.