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Ink artist draws on imagination

By Lin Qi| China Daily| Updated: June 21, 2024 L M S


Measuring 6 meters wide and 1.8 meters high, An Operatic Mood by Han Shuo, depicts a daily scene at a Peking Opera garden with more than 30 performers in exquisite costumes, singing, reciting, acting and practicing. With rich expressions and diverse demeanors, the panoramic painting vividly showcases the profound and extensive Chinese opera culture. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Han Shuo in a solo exhibition shares more than 100 works that highlight his studies of historic figures and stage characters, Lin Qi reports.

Ink artist Han Shuo says painting demands the ability to coordinate smartly.

He says that if you compare a painting to a stage play, the painter assumes several roles, including director, performer, and designer of the stage set and lighting.

In his works, Han, who was born in 1945 and has long been committed to figure painting, presents vivid theater plays in which he arranges these characters living in the past, or from fairy tales and folklore. His paintings aim to show the weight of history and the beauty of simple but elegant brushwork.

More than 100 ink figure paintings from Han's industrious output since the 1980s are now on display at his solo exhibition The Pursuit of Pure Perfection, which is set to run through to Sunday at the Art Museum of the Beijing Fine Art Academy. Several of the works being shown have won important accolades, including the National Exhibition of Fine Arts, the top prize in art held by the China Artists Association every five years since 1949.

Of the three main kinds of Chinese ink painting, figure painting took shape and matured before the other two categories — mountain and water (shanshui), the flower and bird (huaniao) — which can be traced to the Warring States Period (475-221 BC) when early examples of figure painting genre were made on silk.

Han's work shows an accumulation of his studies of these great historical figure artists whose brushwork focused greatly on attention to detail while favoring a minimalist tendency. Han has been exploring that style to convey rich meanings out of simple lines and fewer layers of color, to assume a pure, aloof perspective.

Wu Hongliang, head of the Beijing Fine Art Academy, says, "Han has been endeavoring in the depiction of figures of various social backgrounds and motifs. Whether it is the personas of luminosity in the commissions he undertakes, with a grand historical theme, or the ordinary ones earning a living, he can address the aesthetic needs of the time while integrating his personal style."

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