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Ducks in the Lotus Pond
Flowers and Birds in Chinese Painting

19.04.2011 to 02.10.2011

Flowers and birds have represented a key theme in Chinese painting ever since records began. Essentially, there are two stylistic movements in their depiction: a faithful rendition, painted with precision and in bright colours, and an abstract form, painted in just a few brush strokes, mostly only in ink.

The faithful rendition in the painting of flowers and birds (gongbi, pronounced 'gōng bǐ') was a style especially nurtured by professional painters affiliated to painting academies at the imperial court. The abstract style (xieyi, pronounced 'xiĕ yì'), on the other hand, was favoured more by literati painters. Plum blossoms and orchids were particularly popular motifs and stood as symbols for purity and incorruptibility.

A noteworthy masterpiece in this particular genre can be found in the horizontal scroll 'Plum Blossoms by Moonlight', painted in the 15th century by the literati painter Chen Lu (pronounced 'Chén Lù'). Against a tender blue ground, the blossoms in this work are dots where the exposed paper has been left white, while the branch is rendered with forceful lines in ink, in a long, constantly varying, abstract composition.

The small exhibition presents some thirty works from the 13th to the 19th century.