Comprehensible Chinese splashes

  • 2004-08-12
  • By Michelle McGagh
RIGA - If you're one of those for whom contemporary art means staring stupidly at a series of squiggles and muttering, "Yes, but what is it?" you should visit the exhibition of Chinese contemporary art in Riga Pils (Riga Castle), to get a dose of modern painting that you can actually understand.

In fact, the exhibiting artists have wholly embraced the traditional Chinese methods of painting, which include using oils, watercolors and print painting on their canvass. The artists delicately use ink pens and subtle colors to breath life into traditional natural landscapes, from autumn leaves blowing in the wind to minutely detailed insects as illustrations of spring.
Not only do the canvases reflect the customary Chinese lifestyle - bustling markets, traditional farming and historic buildings - but they also capture modern China with paintings of fashionably dressed young women against a backdrop of skyscrapers and smoking chimneys. These widely recognizable expressions of daily life, then and now, are a welcome change to indecipherable splashes of color and hidden meanings.
Highlights of the exhibition include the paintings "Dream" and "Concentration" by He Jiaying. Works of art that are simplistic in their subject, both are of women either sleeping ("Dream") or reclining nude ("Concentration"). The paintings are so detailed that you might actually believe you can see the women's blush pink lips curl into knowing smiles. The subjects exude serenity and peacefulness that is reflected in muted tones of green, cream and pink.
The exhibition, which is an extension to the Chinese artifacts already on show in the Museum of Foreign Art, is the first time China has held a solo display in Latvia. In the forty paintings on show, a range of styles and moods are expressed. The different age groups of the artists are evident in the subject of their paintings. All of this makes for a delightful exhibition, giving insight into Chinese tradition and culture and a glimpse into the future of Chinese art. o

Chinese Contemporary Art
Museum of Foreign Art
Riga Pils, Pils laukums 3
Aug. 6 - Aug. 29.