Saturday, October 15, 2011

Cleveland Museum of Art: Chinese Art in an Age of Revolution: Fu Baoshi (1904–1965)

The Cleveland Museum of Art's next exhibition, Chinese Art in an Age of Revolution: Fu Baoshi (1904–1965), opens to the public tomorrow; tonight was the Member's Reception and Preview Party. The exhibition is mounted as a retrospective on the life and work of Chinese painter Fu Baoshi.

Coming on the heels of The Lure of Painted Poetry I was a bit skeptical about another Asian show so quickly -- but walking through the the exhibition it was an interesting comparison: While Lure was traditional Japanese, Fu Baoshi's work was well centered in the 1900s, the techniques are instantly identifiable. The scenes depicted in Mr. Baoshi's works, however, are full of more resonant and relatable messages, both political and of daily life. While a telephone poll would have been anachronistic in the ealier show, it is gracefully incorporated into a hillside scene here.

The reception seemed particularly well attended and it was great to see so many people giving such an enthusiastic reception -- particularly enjoyed bumping into a number of people I know -- however the sheer size of the crowd made it a bit difficult to fully absorb the art or to fully understand the timeline within which Mr. Baoshi's work developed -- but that information is there and we plan to make a return visit soon when we can spend a bit more time in a little bit more quiet with the art.

As with Lure, the detail of the paper scrolls on which the works were painted was almost as captivating in some ways as the art itself. The art, meanwhile is largely monochromatic, with hints of color -- primarily red, but the occasional blue and green. The scarcity with which they are used makes it that much more impactful.

Taking a step back, before we walked into the exhibition hall, the catering was, as usual themed for the exhibition, and this time delightfully included a variety of options for the less adventurous (or more picky) eaters amongst us. After indulging in light food, we entered Gartner Auditorium where Director David Franklin (approaching his one-year anniversary with the how time flies) introduced the two representatives from the Nanjing Museum, the major source of lent works for this exhibition -- Mr. Zhang Min, Vice Director of Academic Committee and Mr. Wan Xinhua, Vice Curator of Department of Art Research and Fu Baoshi specialist. Curator of Chinese Art, Anita Chung provided an excited -- and animated -- introduction to an exhibition she was clearly proud of.


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