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From fame to faith: The life of master Hong Yi (2)


10:20, March 04, 2013

Hong Yi was one of the early pioneers who introduced western art forms to China in the early twentieth century. Now, his only remaining paintings are on display for the first time at the China Central Academy of Fine Arts, along with his calligraphy. (CNTV)

Western painting was not the only treasure he brought back. He was also the first to introduce western music and radical new teaching methods, such as using nude models in painting classes.

Chen Yajing, a student, said:"Master Hong Yi was really a versatile genius. He was at home with both painting and music."

One of his best remembered works is the lyrics to the song "farewell", which nearly all Chinese people know by heart.

Many people were surprised by Hong's decision in 1918 to become a Buddhist monk. At the peak of his fame, the Master suddenly ceased almost all artistic activity and focused on philosophy, occasionally practicing calligraphy. That's the path he followed until he passed away in 1942.

Wang Huangsheng said:"It is considered a supreme spiritual status in Chinese culture, to back away from one's worldly fortune and start a peaceful life."

A student said:"We all love his calligraphy. We think he put more effort into it than painting and music. It is the only thing he continued to practice after the ritual head shaving."

Master Hong Yi was a cross-cultural pioneer who never stopped his spiritual pursuit. Like his work, his life and spirit continues to inspire people today.

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