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Bold and lyrical works of big-name female artist

(Shanghai Daily)

08:43, July 26, 2013

A 70-YEAR retrospective of the works of one of China's greatest modern female painters, Chen Peiqiu, is underway at the Shanghai China Art Museum.

The works of Chen, 92, are both bold and lyrical, inspired by both ancient Chinese masters and modern Impressionists.

The show is the first major solo exhibition devoted to a female artist in the former China National Pavilion of the World Shanghai Expo 2010. Museum officials say the venue aspires to become China's Louvre, systematically showcasing China's modern art.

Since it opened last October 1, it has showcased the works of big names such as Lin Fengmian, Guan Liang and Wu Guanzhong.

Chen's exhibition features 92 paintings, mostly ink-wash and water colors, and calligraphy.

A native of central China's Henan Province, Chen became a legend in art and her fame increased when she married Xie Zhiliu (1910-1997), a renowned connoisseur, painter and calligrapher.

Works include Chen's imitations of masterworks of the Song Dynasty (960 AD-1270), flower and bird paintings created in the 1950s, landscapes painted in the 1960s, and the brilliantly colored works of the 1990s, evoking Western use of color.

"The most valuable thing in art lies in innovation and difficulty," Chen once said.

In 1944, Chen entered the National Art College in Hangzhou and was tutored by Huang Binhong and Pan Tianshou, both major figures in China's modern art history.

"Ancient Chinese masters such as Yan Wengui (967 AD-1044), Claude Monet (1840-1926) and Camille Pissarro (1830-1903) all have inspired me," she once said.

Chen is especially noted for the layers of hues and brilliant colors she used on rice paper. In her traditional ink-wash paintings, she used non-traditional techniques such as perspective and light-and-shadow.

The highlight of the exhibition is the only figure painting displayed. It is a graceful, willowy Chinese woman from ancient times, seen from the back. In one hand she holds a fan and in the other a handkerchief. On the fan, a vague landscape is visible.

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