Tuesday, June 03, 2014

The Infinite World: Chinese Figure Painting of the Ming and Qing Dynasties (14th-19th centuries)

Up until November 2nd in Minnesota's MIA is "The Infinite World: Chinese Figure Painting of the Ming and Qing Dynasties (14th-19th centuries)"

Drawn from the MIA’s collection of Chinese paintings, this exhibition of 30 hanging scrolls, handscrolls, and album leaves examines figure painting in China.

Some reflect the principles of Zen and the importance of insight and revelation, while others illustrate the Daoist search for personal immortality or Confucian respect for elders and ancestors. What's interesting to the curators from this period is the genre of meiren hua—paintings of beautiful women which were "portraying the insular world of women from elite society or the courtesan class. This was the era of the “elegant gathering,” of salons that gathered like-minded men of letters to share their painting collections, and the salons themselves became artistic subject matter."

The curators note that "by the 19th century, however, a new page had turned, as Chinese painters were increasingly drawn to Western-style painting."

This becomes an interesting issue for many of the Lao painters of today who are training with master artists from around the world, include those from other Asian, European and American traditions. Will they merely strive to continue painting in these models or break free to redefine what Lao art can, or, somehow, can't be?

But I encourage you to look at this exhibit and see for yourself

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