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Artist imbues modern cityscapes with ancient flavor

Updated: 2013-09-07 00:49
By Dengzhangyu ( China Daily)

In 1989, then 49-year-old Xu decided to move to the US to broaden his horizons and to learn things from the West that he could incorporate into his traditional ink painting.

"What impressed me most from Western art is the use of colors. So I explored a way to combine the colors and the black-and-white ink paintings,"Xu says.

American art critic Dennis Wepman said Xu Xi has arrived at his remarkable synthesis of traditional and modern, Eastern and Western, through life experiences different from those of most contemporary Oriental artists.

Artist imbues modern cityscapes with ancient flavor

Ink paintings by Xu Xi feature an ancient town in western Hunan province. Provided to China Daily

In his first year in New York, Xu says he spent every day walking around the city and visiting the countless galleries and museums around the vast metropolis. He made up his mind to paint something different when he put New York on his canvas.

Under Xu's brush, Fifth Avenue, Central Park and uptown Manhattan all became cloaked in mystery.

Artist imbues modern cityscapes with ancient flavor

"Depicting New York was hard. I painted more than 200 pieces and only kept about 40 of them,"recalls Xu.

The series proved to be a big success. In Xu's words, his New York series opened the door to the Western world. Back then, Chinese painting was far from the mainstream art world in the US.

"My life in the US was simple and quiet. I could fully concentrate on painting. Meanwhile, I had the chance to appreciate all the masterpieces in the West,"says Xu.

Xu moved to Beijing after the city successfully held the 2008 Olympic Games. Although he is 73 years old, the artist is thinking about drawing a series on Beijing — a challenge he says will be more complicated than New York series.

"Painting Beijing is more difficult. But I will still have a try," says the gray-haired artist, surrounded by his works in his Beijing studio.

Artist imbues modern cityscapes with ancient flavor

Artist imbues modern cityscapes with ancient flavor

Oil painting diplomacy   Sweat and talent

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