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Works by pioneer of night scenes on display

By Lin Qi | China Daily | Updated: 2017-07-04 07:45

Works by pioneer of night scenes on display

A commemorative exhibition in Beijing is showing Zong's famous pieces.[Photo provided to China Daily]

Around 80 years ago, Chongqing provided a temporary shelter for people from northern and eastern China who had escaped the Japanese invasion. Among them was Zong Qixiang (1917-99), then an art student at the Central University.

There, he often lingered by the riverbank gazing at the misty mountain city while listening to the sound of the water.

He was so touched by the scene that he produced several watercolors of the night view, and he posted them with a letter to his mentor, artist and educator Xu Beihong.

Xu's reply read: "Ancient Chinese painted night scenes in a symbolic way and they failed to present the luminous feel. Do you think you can depict the beauty of the lights with the ink-brush technique?"

Zong then created his own style: He used varying shades of ink and the liubai (leaving blanks) technique to show brightness in the dark night.

He showed his ink-brush paintings of Chongqing's night view at a solo exhibition in 1943. His creativity impressed viewers, including Xu.

In an article praising his student, Xu wrote, "With very simple brushwork, he presents the twinkling lights of Chongqing, the houses on the mountain slopes, the ragged hilly paths and chaotic streets. He has made a major breakthrough that deserves to be written about."

An ongoing exhibition in Beijing commemorates the 100th anniversary of Zong's birth and features his night view series.

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