Jiangnan exhibition proves inspiration for generations of poets
Jiangnan, referring to the regions south of the lower reaches of the Yangtze River, has long been eulogized by poets. The household poem "Recalling Jiangnan" written by Tang Dynasty poet Bai Juyi (AD 772-846) showcases such adoration.
"How nice is the land of South!
I always recall its fair sights.
At sunrise, the flowers seem red like a fire,
In springtime, the river waters greener than grass.
How can I ever forget the land of the South?"
However, when the impression of Jiangnan comes under painters' brush strokes, words are replaced by colors.
An exhibition entitled "Impression of Jiangnan: A Celebration of the 70th Anniversary of the Founding of the People's Republic of China" is currently on display at Suzhou Art Museum.
The exhibition features nearly 80 artworks created by a group of artists who grew up, lived or worked in Jiangnan, including some big names such as Yan Wenliang (1893-1988), Wu Guanzhong (1919-2010) and Zao Wou-Ki (1921-2013).
Different people have different impressions of Jiangnan. At its best, Jiangnan means springtime and at worst, a Utopian garden that haunts the mind of those who have visited. Jiangnan is not only a word that renders a feeling of nostalgia but also spiritual freedom.
"Today when we start to discuss Jiangnan, we are actually talking about an ideal civilization," says Li Chao, a professor at the Fine Arts College of Shanghai University.
"Boating under the Moonlight" created by Yan is a highlight of the exhibition. The painting is an impressionistic canvas filled with a poetic and romantic atmosphere. Yan, together with Liu Haisu (1896-1994), founded the Shanghai Art Institute and Suzhou Art Institute, the cradle of China's modern art.
Apart from the artworks of the first generation of modern artists, the exhibition also reflects the interpretation of today's artists toward Jiangnan through varied art pieces.