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Small is beautiful

By Lin Qi | China Daily | Updated: 2023-02-07 07:52
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Visitors attend Beauty in Greatness Through Details, an ongoing exhibition at the National Art Museum of China, appreciating exhibits such as Seeking Truth, a sculpture by Wu Weishan. [Photo by Jiang Dong/China Daily]

Wu Weishan, director of the National Art Museum of China, says they mounted the exhibition to address a noticeable trend in artistic creation of recent years, where more works of large and even huge dimensions have been created; and they hope that via this exhibition, people will also find, in smaller works, the beauty and richness of the world.

"Laozi, the ancient Taoist philosopher, was quoted as saying, 'Governing a big country requires the same delicacy as cooking a small fish.' The rules of creation are alike," Wu says. "Only when someone makes an effort to achieve exquisiteness in detail and within limited dimensions, can they reveal the scope and depth of the world."

Works at the exhibition feature iconic motifs and styles, having been revisited by those celebrated figures of the 20th century, for example, Salted Preserved Eggs and Insect by Qi Baishi, who is known for pairing food and small animals in his work to deliver a casual, peaceful mood; Two Lions by Xu Beihong who often depicted noble beasts like lions, tigers and eagles to lift people's morale in the time of difficulty; and Shushan Mountain by Huang Binhong, whose highly personalized brushwork saw him acclaimed as one of the greatest landscape painters in modern China.

The exhibition also shows recent works, in which artists address the changes in ordinary people's lives and perceptions, such as First Snow by Huang Huasan that hails deliverymen in cities whose hard work, especially during the pandemic lockdowns, was vital to urban dwellers.

Wu says that through the works, people will see the evolution in the styles of artists from different stages of history, as well as the changing bigger picture via the small details.

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