Art News China – Bats have a bad reputation. They fly at night, look scary, and some of them can be vampires in disguise.
But the Asian Society of Hong Kong is here to defend the bats. Their new exhibit, Bat Cave: Treasures of the Day and Creatures of the Night, features both traditional and modern art that celebrates these misunderstood winged animals.
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The exhibit turned the usually bright and cheery Chantal Miller Gallery at the Asia Society into a dark bat cave—and a ghost of sorts. Each section of the gallery has art with a different theme, but they all have one thing in common: everything is covered in bats.
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The use of bats in art was very common during the Qing and Ming dynasties. In many Chinese dialects, the word “bat” sounds like the word “blessing”, so the image of a bat has become a symbol of good luck. Many traditional Chinese arts use this type of visual humor to tell a story or send a message.
More than 70 pieces are on display. Each shows bats in a different way. From cute, plump bats painted on porcelain to bats hidden in elaborate embroidery on clothing, bats are everywhere. And looking for bats in any artwork is part of the fun.
But step into the brightly lit side of the gallery and you won’t have to look for bats anymore. The entire wall is painted by mainland artist Sun Xun as a mural dedicated to bats.
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When he was finishing his mural, he talked to Sun. The space was filled with paint cans and brushes. It was the last day of painting, so most of the mural was done, but Sun was standing on top of the ladder painting the last bats at the end of the wall. Paint carefully but quickly.
Sun is known for his digital artwork and you can see some of his animations on the wall mounted TV screen.
But this time he was inspired by traditional Chinese art. And he only had four days to do it. He knew that his mural had to go with the antiques in the rest of the gallery.
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This bridge is obvious when you look at its mural. There are rocks and mountains that look like old ink paintings. But the swirling golden clouds look newer. And of course all the bats are too.
“A bat is not a bat,” laughs Sun. This is from my mind as well as from my memory.
And Sun combined his memory of bats with what he knew about traditional styles for painting other animals.
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He says: I learned the dragon style from older paintings. “So I put them together. I used dragon style to draw the bats.”
Sun doesn’t even know how many bats are on the wall – he’s lost count. “The wall decides, not me,” he says. “I’m a tool.”
Sun’s new style has also borrowed the mentality of traditional art. “This style of art is not as detailed as Western art,” he says. “It’s more emotional, very fast. You don’t think about anything when you’re doing it.”
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He points to a section on the wall behind him that has some rocks and trees. You can tell it was painted quickly because the paint drips from the lines.
This is because it is more about what feels good at the time. Since shapes are not details, for example adding a few strokes can turn a tree into a mountain. “That part, you can change it to something,” Sun explains.
For Sun, the Bat Cave exhibit is about more than bats and antiques. “I don’t think this exhibition is just about old art or just about dead art,” he says. “Because I’m here.” He sees it as an opportunity for people to see how Chinese culture and history continue to influence current art.
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He seems to be looking at today and remembering what has come before, Sun says. “Culture is still alive and still developing.” The calligraphy and painting exhibition, which works on the theme of love of life and nature of the Chinese painter Liu Wanming, is now open in Beijing, the capital of China, and displays more than 100 works of the artist.
Including large paintings and smaller sketches, the pieces that make up the exhibition mainly depict flowers, birds and land animals. They embody the artist’s careful observation and depiction of the natural world.
The flower and bird genre is one of the three main categories in Chinese ink painting. Such works are often popular for their lively scenes filled with animals and flowers in different palettes. Many of these panels have been welcomed by industry experts in the exhibition. One of the most popular works, “Light Rain Washes the Forest, and Birds Chirp in the Silent Wind,” perfectly captures the barren landscape of doves perched on winter locust trees in northern China.
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Liu Wanming’s “Light Rain Washes the Forest and Birds Chirp Idlely in the Wind” is now on display in Beijing. /Kanal art museum of painting and calligraphy
Liu has deeply studied the traditional art of Chinese painting over the past decades, forming a solid foundation of unique skills and style. By painting figures, landscapes, flowers and birds, he shows the harmony between man and nature in an artistic way. His works have an elegant and fresh style and emphasize the importance of preserving traditions as well as experiencing innovative flourishes to enrich the nation’s cultural productions.
Most of Liu’s paintings are inspired by everyday life and scenes from nature, but convey a sense of poetic tranquility in an artistic way. Most of the works in this exhibition were created during or after Liu visited ordinary people living in urban and rural areas, as he absorbed local cultures and formed bonds with the people he met there. The artist believes that his life experiences are the best source of inspiration for any creative product worth it.
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Sketches by Liu Wanming during his trip to Inner Mongolia in 2018. /Kanal Painting and Calligraphy Art Museum
Liu says that life experience is the source and basis of an artist’s creative output. He sees that the two are not separate. “When you’re just participating on the base and interacting with the local people, the works you create can have emotions and touch the audience. When people see your works, they empathize with them. They kind of They provide emotional support and aesthetic pleasure,” Liu said. The exhibition “Myths and Legends of China and Ages of Chaos and Heroes” includes 76 works of art with a theme that is considered the most influential results of cultural creation.
An artwork shows Pangu separating heaven and earth by dissolving the chaos that surrounds him into a white-like structure. It is one of 76 works of art on display in an exhibition in Shanghai that contains folklore about the origins of Chinese civilization.
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Although the Big Bang theory has gained widespread acceptance, what happened before the explosion remains puzzling, and some of the most famous physicists, including Albert Einstein and Chen-Ning Franklin Yang, support creation by “supernatural powers.”
Its beginnings are so fascinating that every civilization has presented its own narrative that is embedded in the national psyche.
In the Christian Bible: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, and the earth was formless and void, and darkness was upon the deep.”
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The Chinese have a more lively start. Pango, the Chinese Adam, lives in an egg-like structure. Realizing that the darkness of the covering was unbearable, he itched around and created the heavens and the earth.
Several years later, the four pillars supporting the sky were dislodged after a conflict between a water spirit and a fire spirit. The goddess Nova patched the holes in the sky with stone blocks in five colors.
A disgruntled unused piece of stone inspired by “Stone Story” or “Dream of Red Mansions”, the greatest Chinese novel.
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These stories – and many more – are being told in a wide range of art forms that celebrate the origin of a civilization that is both original and independent, as part of a government-sponsored cultural project launched in 2015.
Covering 5,000 square meters of infrastructure, the “Myths and Legends of China and the Age of Chaos and Heroes” exhibition displays 76 themed art products as the most influential results of the cultural creation and dissemination project in the Chinese “Genesis”. It is mainly local, but also includes some of the most prominent Chinese artists from around the country.
This show honors the creativity of the Chinese people, as it reaches from the beginning to the mythological ages and then to the creation of the Chinese nation, testifying to the strength, resilience and strong nature of the Chinese people. A range of art forms: illustrated story books, film and video products, stage performances,