A restaurant's food on canvas looking good enough to eat

Wang Jie
"Family Feast@" at Meilongzhen Restaurant captures its "legend of taste" through the brushstrokes of local artist Wang Yuhong and her depiction of 26 dishes that make it famous.
Wang Jie
A restaurant's food on canvas looking good enough to eat

The "Family Feast@" exhibition features dishes from the Meilongzhen Restaurant's menu.

A restaurant's food on canvas looking good enough to eat

The artist combines traditional Chinese elements with modern-day dishes.

When a savory dish comes on canvas, it has a different "flavor."

At the Meilongzhen Restaurant, "Family Feast@" created by local artist Wang Yuhong is currently on display in the traditional-style small building where the restaurant is situated on Nanjing Road W. through January 17.

Meilongzhen Restaurant was opened in 1938 by two Peking Opera fans. The restaurant is noted for having several famous Chinese chefs. Today, the classic culinary flavor has been passed down to its chef of a fourth generation.

Wang Yuhong, a local artist known for still life on canvas, tries to retain such a "legend of taste" with her brushstrokes. The exhibition features nearly 26 famous dishes from Meilongzhen's menu and took the artist more than three months to complete.

"We invited her to observe and taste each dish before she started to paint," said Qin Xiaojun, curator of the exhibition, "Frankly speaking, she is not such a gourmet and didn't care about the taste of food at first. But gradually she focused more on the taste than on the look of the dish."

According to Qin, her initiative for this exhibition was to shorten the distance between art and reality.

"Of course, these paintings are not merely the realistic depiction of the delicious dishes," Qin added, "art is always higher than real life."

A restaurant's food on canvas looking good enough to eat

One of the tempting dishes depicted on canvas.

Each work is painted with a weathered backdrop, implying the historical traces of Meilongzhen. The artist arranges the dishes together with Chinese elements such as blue and white porcelain, bronzes, and calligraphy.

Wang also tries to blur the timeline, conjuring up a new small world shying away from any concrete time or space. Botticelli's "Goddess of Love" is placed with "Chicken in Golden Soup," and narcissus painted by Zhao Mengjian of the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279) with "Eight Treasure Rice Pudding."

"I clearly remembered when I was a little girl, I used a poster to wrap my book," Qin recalled, "The poster featured Chen Yifei's over-famed painting 'The female flutist.' I was deeply moved by this painting, as it was so elegant and attractive. From that moment, the 'seed of art' was deeply planted in my mind. Likewise, I hope to spread such artistic seed to more ordinary locals."

Exhibit Info:

Date: Through January 17, 11:30am–10pm

Venue: Meilongzhen Restaurant

Address: No.22, Lane 1081 Nanjing Rd.W


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