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Figure painting exhibition commemorates pioneer

By Lin Qi | | Updated: 2021-07-27 09:58
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A fan painting by Ren Bonian. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Ren Bonian is known as one of the most important artists from the second half of the 19th century, and a founder of the highly acclaimed "Shanghai painting school". 

Living in a dramatically changing era, Ren, a practitioner of classical Chinese ink art, confronted a decline of cultural tradition amid the introduction of Western art and culture. He embraced the changes by modernizing the style of Chinese paintings, which influenced several generations of ink painters.

Strokes of Wonder, an exhibition opening at the National Art Museum of China on July 30, shows dozens of Ren's figure paintings from NAMOC's collection. 

Ren perfected his skills while also studying Western art. He adopted elements from folk art, and depicted characters from popular literary works. He preserved the scholarly touch of classical art and also breathed new life into it to make it more accessible to a burgeoning group of citizens. 

Modern artist Xu Beihong once said, "If one were to choose a painter from past and present who could really pictorialize thoughts, it would have to be Ren Bonian."

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