Confucius Institute Hosts Exhibit, Demonstration with Chinese Artist Dengbai Yuejin
September 16, 2019
From Sept. 6-9, the Confucius Institute at Webster University partnered with the St. Louis County Library Mid-County Branch to exhibit the work of Chinese artist Dengbai Yuejin.
A variety of activities were offered on the exhibit's opening day to introduce Chinese painting to the public.
Yuejin and Dr. Tongyun Yin, Curator of Asian Art at the Lizzadro Museum in Illinois, engaged in a dialogue on appreciating Chinese art. They discussed how the subjects of a painting often carry subtle meaning and how titles are carefully selected to reflect this. The artist also talked about his personal journey as an artist.
Afterward Dengbai gave a live demonstration of his freehand painting style, painting subjects like catfish and shrimp with black ink on rice paper. As he painted, he explained that a skilled Chinese artist can create five distinct colors, ranging from deep black to a middling burnt color to palest gray, using the same black ink. Each stroke should reveal the concision and depth, aiming to produce the three characteristics of highest art: pureness, symbolism, and naturalism.
After the demonstration, the table opened up for members of the audience to try their hand at Chinese ink-brush painting. As they worked, Dengbai gave them pointers, and also found clever ways to turn their mistakes and random blotches of ink into images. For several audience members, he wrote their names and titles in Chinese characters along the side of their painting.
On the final day of the exhibition, he gifted one of his paintings, “Harmony and Inclusion,” to the St. Louis County Library Mid-County Branch. This painting will hang in the library for all to see as a lasting memory of this event.
This exhibition provided a venue for St. Louis community members to not only appreciate a master of Chinese art, but also learn about the underlying modes of thinking in this art form. In this way, art can be considered a window through which one might come to understand a culture.