Purely artis­tic

Painter Huo Chun­yang says the essence of art is eter­nal and can ‘pu­rify hearts’, re­ports

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SUNDAY SPECIAL -

For Huo Chun­yang, a mas­ter of tra­di­tional Chi­nese paint­ing, art is not just about skill but more im­por­tantly a phi­los­o­phy and a life­style. Born in Qingyuan county in He­bei prov­ince, the 67- year- old painter is now a pro­fes­sor at the Tian­jin Acad­emy of Fine Arts and vice-chair­man of the Tian­jin Artists As­so­ci­a­tion.

In 1997, Huo was elected as one of the top 100 Chi­nese painters by the China Fed­er­a­tion of Lit­er­ary and Art Cir­cles.

He said that an artist should sense “the cir­cle of life”.

“Chi­nese paint­ing should in­ter­pret life,” he ex­plained. “It is the car­rier of all sen­tient be­ings.

“But rather than the shape, Chi­nese paint­ing fo­cuses more on de­scrib­ing the spirit of lives,” he added.

“Chi­nese cul­ture em­pha­sizes tol­er­ance. Tra­di­tional Chi­nese paint­ing is more about sim­i­lar­ity than in­di­vid­u­al­ity, al­though dif­fer­ent painters have var­ied styles,” he said.

“So, an artist must de­vote him­self to the prac­tice of pur­su­ing cul­tural essence that stays eter­nal and un­changed.”

He be­lieves that many of mod­ern con­cepts of to­day are merely “de­tailed ex­pla­na­tion of our an­ces­tors’ ideas”.

While there are va­ri­eties of schools among artists, and those who de­velop new fash­ions, Huo said they all have some­thing in com­mon that links them from within.

“The var­i­ous styles are ex­pres­sions of the cul­ti­va­tion deep in­side the heart,” he said. “They must be de­liv­ered in a nat­u­ral way.

“To de­velop a style in the art, you must first be per­cep­tive, then ra­tio­nal, and come back to per­cep­tual in the end — first sim­ple, then com­plex, and then back to sim­ple again. That is ac­tu­ally the way ev­ery­thing de­vel­ops.”

Huo has made in­no­va­tions in draw­ing. One ex­am­ple is the tech­niques to draw lo­tus leaves, a pop­u­lar sub­ject in tra­di­tional Chi­nese paint­ing. In­stead of us­ing large ar­eas of ink, he re­sorts to the com­bi­na­tion of dots and curved lines.

While in­no­va­tion is en­cour­aged to­day, Huo said that some tra­di­tions must be kept so that one can be earnest enough to pur­suit the real na­ture of art and cul­ture.

“Things change on the sur­face, but in na­ture, they are the same,” he said.

He noted that tra­di­tions should not be re­garded as con­straints, or some­thing de­cayed, but in­stead great for­tune. “It re­quires sin­cer­ity to hand the tra­di­tions down, to achieve a world of freedom in the mind.

“Art can pu­rify peo­ple’s hearts, and an artist must pu­rify the heart of him­self in the first place,” he said. “Only when you get rid of all dis­tract­ing thoughts can you cre­ate truly great works.” Con­tact the writer at zhangzhao@ chi­nadaily. com.cn


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