Tuesday, August 23, 2016

My Featured Painting - Birches

Nurtured by many Russian novels while growing up, I developed a special feeling towards the omnipresent birches, which not only aptly set the scenes and evoke the particular melancholy especially associated with Russia and Russian people, and finally, I made effort in 2006 to try to capture such feelings with a painting titled Birches, which is currently showing at the McGuire Real Estate gallery in Berkeley as part of the “Crowded by Beauty” exhibit.

I love the slender shapes of the trees, the softness of the finely-layered birch barks and their eerie silver color, and above all, the eye-shaped knobs imprinted on the trunks from bottom to top, as if birches were meant to be the chosen observers from silent world, so as to judge humankind.

Birches / 樺樹 / Birken
Birches
Oil on Canvas
22" x 28"
Completed in 2006

That painting is also a play of optical illusion - amongst the eyes on the trunks, there was a singular eye floating in the space, unattached, between two indifferent birches.   Inundated by so many eyes, this oddity was not immediately obvious; once detected, one might ask, if this is a most determined birch eye, the eye of an invisible human, or just a wandering independent eye belong to nothing and no one. 

Originally posted on matthewfelixsun.com

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Friday, August 19, 2016

My Favorite Paintings at Liaoning Provincial Museum, Shenyang, China

The main museum in my hometown, Manchurian city Shenyang, Liaoning Provincial Museum, boasted some magnificent artifacts and Chinese paintings, due to the fact that the last imperial dynasty was originated from Manchuria, and had kept a rich trove of art treasures in Shenyang, especially during and after World War II, when Manchu elites retreated back to northeastern China.

Like many cities in China, Shenyang has experienced rapid expansion in the last decade or so, resulting in the move of its administrative and cultural centers southward, including the relocation of the Museum, which traded a round, nondescript building with a rectangular, nondescript building.  Below are two pictures of the Museum before and after the move.

DSCN6180 _ Liaoning Museum, Shenyang, China
Former site of Liaoning Provincial Museum

DSCN3748 _ Liaoning Provincial Museum
Current site of Liaoning Provincial Museum

The most treasured painting of the Museum was a painting from Tang Dynasty by 周昉 Fang ZHOU, Tang Dynasty, (active 766~779 - 785~804), titled "簪花仕女图 (Court Ladies Adorning Their Hair with Flowers)".

Of my several visits to this museum, I was only able to encounter it once, due to the typical fragility of Chinese paintings, and the preciousness of this piece of extreme sublimity and exquisity, which captured the luxury and easy of the court life during the most prosperous period in Chinese history. The dark and dull background was a perfect foil for the array of richly though never gaudily attired and confidently posed high-ranking ladies and retinue, whose pale skin glittered, underneath their crowning jet black coiffures, while denoting the high ranking of these ladies, together with strategically placed darker veils and belts, created much visual highlights and accents to the otherwise utterly sweet and soft sphere.

DSCN6222 _ 簪花仕女图 (Court Ladies Adorning Their Hair with Flowers), 周昉 Fang ZHOU, 46x180cm, Liaoning Museum, Shenyang, China
簪花仕女图 Court Ladies Adorning Their Hair with Flowers

DSCN6221 _ Enlarged replica of 簪花仕女图 (Court Ladies Adorning Their Hair with Flowers), 周昉 Fang ZHOU, 46x180cm, Liaoning Museum, Shenyang, China
Enlarged replica of 簪花仕女图 Court Ladies Adorning Their Hair with Flowers



Another striking painting was "红衣西域僧图 (Red Robed Western Monk)" by 赵孟頫 Mengfu ZHAO (1254-1322) of Song Dynasty. Here, the western world meant Western Asia.  The painting was interesting, not only for the sitter, who was obviously exotic-looking to Chinese, but also the composition and the employment of a single viewpoint, which was more typical in western art idioms. The triangle form of the monk, the rock and the tree behind him, almost invoked a feeling of Italian Renaissance painting, and the single and closeup viewpoint was also an abrupt departure from Chinese painting tradition of a multiple viewpoints, such as the painting above.  Here, instead of showing a huge swatch of landscape, and the complete form of the tree, the painter chose to show only the tree trunk and a few barely visible leaves and branches on the very edge of the painting, thus forcing the viewers to concentrate on the figure.  Instead of a picturesque tableau, the painting became a character study, via his upright posture, his brilliant red robe, which contrasted strongly to and complemented by the verdant, moss-covered rocks, whose strangely lined surfaces per chance also echoed the monk's weathered and wise face and irregularly shaped head. An unforgettable glimpse of his inner world.

DSCN6209 _ 红衣西域僧图 Red Robed Western Monk, 赵孟頫 Mengfu ZHAO, 1304, 26x52cm, Liaoning Museum, Shenyang, China
红衣西域僧图 (Red Robed Western Monk)" by 赵孟頫 Mengfu ZHAO (1254-1322)



My Favorite Museum Collection Series
>> My Favorite Museum Collection Series 127: To be continued
<< My Favorite Museum Collection Series 125: My Favorite Paintings at Pinacoteca Nazionale di Ferrara, Italy

List of My Favorite Artworks in the Museums I've Visited

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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Crop "Drawings" in Shenyang, China

Courtesy or my sister, I can share some fascinating photos of crop "drawings" on display in Shenyang, China at the moment. The colorful drawings of corporate logos, presumably the sponsors', animals, buildings and well-known and beloved mythical figures, such as the Monkey King, were absolutely enchanting.

IMG_6500 _ Crop Drawing in Shenyang, China

IMG_6501 _ Crop Drawing in Shenyang, China

IMG_6499 _ Crop Drawing in Shenyang, China

IMG_6498 _ Crop Drawing in Shenyang, China

These paintings definitely have attracted some gawkers, who for a modest fees, could clime atop the observation tower or deck for a good view.  Hopefully, it is good business.


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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

My Favorite Paintings at Pinacoteca Nazionale di Ferrara, Italy

Pinacoteca Nazionale (National Gallery) di Ferrara, also known as Palazzo dei Diamanti, named for its rusticated façade of diamond spikes, impressed with effortless elegance of the building and its collections.

DSCN3905 _ Pinacoteca Nazionale di Ferrara (Palazzo dei Diamanti)

The first striking piece greeted visitors was an "Assunzione di Santa Maria Maddalena" by Maestro della Maddalena Assunta.

DSCN3773 _ Staircase and Assunzione di Santa Maria Maddalena, Maestro della Maddalena Assunta, Pinacoteca Nazionale (Palazzo Diamanti), Ferrara, 17 October

The highly stylized landscape was an idealized world, where animals, plants, and humans mingled together in harmony. The low vantage point and the receding flat landscape helped to generate a visceral sense of witnessing Saint Mary flying up. Hovering just above the ground, the pious and still youthful Mary, borne by several cherubim and greeted by a pair of angels with enormous wings, though delicate and even fragile, commended attention through her centered position, contorted pose, and brilliant bloody red drapery. The small V-shaped hills framing the base of the painting, also added the sense of uplifting.  

DSCN3903 _ Assunzione di Santa Maria Maddalena, Maestro della Maddalena Assunta, Pinacoteca Nazionale, Ferrara, 17 October
Assunzione di Santa Maria Maddalena, Maestro della Maddalena Assunta


I was also very moved by another Mary painting - Madonna col Bambino, which featured the tender Mary and a very trusting and adorable baby Jesus, engaging in silent and intimate communion, demonstrating the palpable love and trust between the mother and the baby. A touching sweetness permeated the painting, yet the painting never fell to the level of saccharine; the sweetness was manifested in the simplicity of these figures, their most natural exhibition of pure emotions, and the delicate and harmonious hues of pink, rose, and blue, all artfully woven together.

DSCN3833 _ Madonna col Bambino, santa Lucia e san Matteo, Sebastiano Filippi detto Bastianino
Madonna col Bambino,  Sebastiano Filippi  detto Bastianino


My Favorite Museum Collection Series
>> My Favorite Museum Collection Series 126: My Favorite Paintings at Liaoning Provincial Museum, Shenyang, China

<< My Favorite Museum Collection Series 124: My Favorite Sculptures at Palazzo Municipale in Ferrara, Italy

List of My Favorite Artworks in the Museums I've Visited

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- Impressionism from National Gallery of Art (DC) in San Francisco
- My Favorite Paintings at National Gallery of Art, Washington DC
- Art Gallery of Luxun Art Academy in Shenyang, China

Saturday, August 6, 2016

My Favorite Paintings at Castello Estense, Ferrara, Italy


DSCN3756 _ Statue of Girolamo Savonarola, Castello Estense, Ferrara, 17 October

The formidable and somewhat gloomy fortress, Castello Estense in Ferrara, Italy was surprisingly  airy and even cheesy inside.

Such as this whimsical ceiling painting, one of many, depicting carousing nude men and cherubim, who, despite in the drunken stage, allowed their stances and gestures to be regulated by some tidy order.  Their pale flash tone worked really well against the elegant background of blue and pink walls and windows of a building façade, thus introduced another dimension of order and regulation.  Finally, the fantastic drawn floral borders on milky colored background firmly planted this hedonistic scene in a florid paradise.

DSCN4178 _ Castello Estense, Ferrara, 17 October

DSCN4178 _ Castello Estense, Ferrara (detail)

Opposite to that ceiling painting's festive atmosphere,  a triptych of grisaille frescoes in a courtyard depicted some serious and highly-placed personalities, was all somberness and world-weary.  Despite the lacking colors, or because of that, these "veiled" paintings were memorably atmospheric and evocative. 

DSCN4278 _ Castello Estense, Ferrara, 17 October

DSCN4278 _ Castello Estense, Ferrara (detail)


My Favorite Museum Collection Series
>> My Favorite Museum Collection Series 125: My Favorite Paintings at Pinacoteca Nazionale di Ferrara, Italy
<< My Favorite Museum Collection Series 123: My Favorite Sculptures at Palazzo Municipale in Ferrara, Italy

List of My Favorite Artworks in the Museums I've Visited

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Wednesday, August 3, 2016

My Favorite Sculptures at Palazzo Municipale in Ferrara, Italy

During my brief day trip to Italian city Ferrara, I admired two bronze sculptures on top of the arch entrance to its Palazzo Municipale (City Hall) — Arco del Volto del cavallo (Arch of Horse Front).

DSCN3700 _ Duca Borso d'Este & Marchese Niccolo III d'Este outside the entrance arch - the Volto del Cavallo to Palazzo Municipale, Ferrara, 17 October

On the left, there was the seated statesman Duca Borso d'Este & Marchese Niccolo III d'Este and on the right, equestrian sculpture of Marchese Niccolo III d'Este. 

DSCN3747 _ Statue of Duca Borso d'Este (l) and Marchese Niccolo III d'Este (r), Palazzo Municipale, Ferrara, 17 October

Of these two equally impressive sculptures, the more flamboyant equestrian made more immediate impressions.

DSCN4068 _ Statue of Borso d'Este (seated), Palazzo Municipale, Ferrara, 17 October

The overt masculinity and grandeur was reflected with his insolent expression, his immobile pose, and his easy on the schlepping charger. The silhouette of the powerful horse and the rider was as solid as a mountain, as if nothing could challenge and stop his marching supremacy.

DSCN4030 _ Statue of Marchese Niccolo III d'Este, Palazzo Municipale, Ferrara, 17 October
Marchese Niccolo III d'Este

DSCN4025 _ Statue of Marchese Niccolo III d'Este, Palazzo Municipale, Ferrara, 17 October

The seated Duca Borso d'Este, on the contrary, was all self-confident serenity, radiating innate strength, as if so confident of his divine invested power that he needed no military poses and trappings to uphold his control over his domain.

DSCN3700 _ Duca Borso d'Este outside the entrance arch - the Volto del Cavallo to Palazzo Municipale, Ferrara, 17 October (detail)
Duca Borso d'Este

DSCN3747 _ Statue of Duca Borso d'Este (l) and Marchese Niccolo III d'Este (r), Palazzo Municipale, Ferrara, 17 October (detail)


My Favorite Museum Collection Series
>> My Favorite Museum Collection Series 124: My Favorite Paintings at Castello Estense, Ferrara, Italy
<< My Favorite Museum Collection Series 122: My Favorite Artworks at Duomo in Ferrara, Italy

List of My Favorite Artworks in the Museums I've Visited

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