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Birds, Beasts, Blossoms and Bugs: 20th Century Chinese Painting

February 25, 2005 - February 25, 2005

Brian S. McElney, from Bath, England, has donated over 350 twentieth century Chinese paintings to the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria over the past decade. This exhibition features a sizeable number of these paintings whose subject matter is birds, animals, flowers and insects. The Chinese portrayal of creatures and plants can be quite different from Western depictions. Flowers, animals, insects and birds are depicted with great elegance and frequently with humour, which is characteristic of the best in Chinese art. Subtlety of tone, simplicity and quietude can be found in these nature paintings. The artists’ sensitivity to compositional elements is further enhanced by luxuriant colours and meticulous brushstrokes. In their passion for painting nature, the Chinese devoted the same skill that Western artists dedicated to portraiture and still-lifes.

Their paintings have an underlying simplicity not bound by time or place and are aimed at being at harmony with nature. Some major 20th century Chinese artists included in this exhibition are Cui Zifan, Gao Jianfu, Huang Yongyu, Li Kuchan, Lin Fengmian, Lu Hui, Wu Changshuo, Xu Beihong and Chao Shaoang, to name a few.

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