Art exhibition of mountains brings to the fore modern painting genres and skills

Wu Huixin
The 7th Returning From Five Great Mountains Biennale at the China Academy of Art Museum displays 228 paintings from 39 contemporary artists.
Wu Huixin

A recent exhibition of first-rate Chinese paintings at the China Academy of Art Museum drew crowds of museum-goers and created a stir on social media.

Those art lovers who missed out on that exhibition have a chance to see comparable works at another exhibition at the museum through May 22.

The 7th Returning From Five Great Mountains Biennale displays 228 paintings from 39 contemporary artists, showing the modern aspect of Chinese painting genres and skills.

All the exhibits are themed on the "Five Great Mountains of China," namely Mount Tai (泰山), Mt Heng (衡山), Mt Song (嵩山), Mt Heng (恒山) and Mt Hua (华山).

With great historical and cultural significance, the mountains are considered sacred places and have been visited by emperors, literati and scholars throughout history. A large number of works of literature, paintings and crafts inspired by these majestic mountains have become timeless works revered in the country.

Art exhibition of mountains brings to the fore modern painting genres and skills
Ti Gong

"Mount Hua" by Chen Saisai

Literati often visited the five mountains, especially when they faced setbacks in their pursuit of political careers, and the mountains won their hearts. Renowned poets wrote poems to eulogize the landscapes that later became famous.

"Du Fu (AD 712-707), the Tang Dynasty's 'Sage of Poem,' visited Mount Tai, marveling at its grandeur. He then wrote the popular poem 'Wang Yue (望岳),' which has encouraged people for generations due to the perseverance and spirit exhibited by the poet," said Xu Jiang, former president of the CAA. "And we try to understand his moods and thoughts when he visited this mountain."

Mount Tai has been a place of worship for at least 3,000 years and served as one of the most important ceremonial centers of China for millennia.

The exhibition shows many works inspired by Mount Tai. Visitors to the exhibition can see watercolor and ink-wash paintings portraying the mountain's landscapes.

The mountain is associated with sunrise, birth and renewal, and is often regarded as the foremost of the five mountains.

Throughout history, literati would retreat to the temples on these mountains, searching for inner peace and detachment from worldly concerns.

Mount Song is home to the Shaolin Temple, traditionally considered the birthplace of Zen Buddhism, and the temple's collection of pagoda forests is the largest in China.

Young artist Lin Haizhong created "Shaolin Temple," depicting a panoramic landscape on Mount Song. It presents a majestic and magnificent image featuring roaring waves and layer upon layer of mountain peaks.

Dating back 1,500 years, Shaolin Temple is the main temple of the Shaolin school of Buddhism to this day.

Art exhibition of mountains brings to the fore modern painting genres and skills
Ti Gong

"Shaolin Temple" by Lin Haizhong

Mount Hua has also attracted a cavalcade of scholars by virtue of its undulating mountains, tranquil villages and vast forests.

Renowned literati visited the area and wrote poems that became famous or drew paintings to eulogize the landscape. That is also one of the common themes for the Chinese landscape painting genre, which can be seen in the exhibition.

The exhibition aspires to rebuild a spiritual world through art.

Visitors can learn about the solitary but idyllic life that painters yearned for through their subtle strokes and the shades of their artwork.

They depict secluded landscapes of hills and dales, shoals and water birds, small waterfalls running over ragged cliffs, and pine trees of strange and irregular shapes, highlighting man's insignificance against nature and the painters' detached attitude toward life.

The five mountains have nourished the hearts and minds of all Chinese people, and laid the universal foundation of poetic sentiments and spiritual lives in the country. They lead people to think of the traces and feelings of the literati from millennia ago, and through those feelings, how painters can harmonize with their hearts and voices.

From the exhibition, visitors can find that contemporary painters have discovered more natural beauty, humanity and lifestyles from these mountains, since modern-day people can view the mountains through more accessible methods.

With the unrestrained and magnificent power of their imaginations, the artists have created a world of beauty, highlighting the traditional poetic aesthetics and the art of living.

Art exhibition of mountains brings to the fore modern painting genres and skills
Ti Gong

Visitors appreciate the works on display at the 7th Returning From Five Great Mountains Biennal.

Exhibition info:

Date: Through May 22, 9am-5pm

Venue: China Academy of Art Museum

Address: 218 Nanshan Rd


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