Published: August 21, 2007
The Frist Center for the Visual Arts is showing “Lyrical Traditions: Four Centuries of Chinese Paintings from the Papp Collection,” on view through October 7 in the Ingram Gallery.
Comprising 60 hand painted scrolls, hanging scrolls, fans, screens and albums, “Lyrical Traditions” is drawn from the collection of Phoenix, Ariz., residents Marilyn and Roy Papp. Organized by the Phoenix Museum of Art, the exhibition also features paintings produced in the Ming (1368‱644) and Qing (1644‱911) dynasties.
On view concurrently is an exhibition of Chinese photography, “Whispering Wind: Recent Chinese Photography.” Also in conjunction with “Lyrical Traditions,” Vanderbilt University and the Nashville Public Library will feature exhibitions with work by Chinese artists. “Beauty and Power: Chinese Art from the Vanderbilt University Fine Art Collections,” will be on view at the Fine Arts Gallery through September 22. “A Moment of Eternity: The art and Expression of Chinese Poetry Calligraphy,” featuring the artwork of master calligrapher and poet Huang Xiang, will be at the Nashville library through October 14.
Works in “Lyrical Traditions” show how artists followed stylistic conventions and perpetuated ancient social values related to Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism, while exploring the wide range of expressive approaches possible within that framework. Works feature a variety of subjects, including images of court officials, scholars or religious figures, naturalistic depictions of animals, birds and flowers and charming scenes of everyday life.
Landscapes, as a subject, most fully represent the ambitions of the Chinese artists. “Lyrical Traditions” begins with art created during the Ming dynasty, which restored native Chinese rule after nearly 100 years of foreign Mongol control. The exhibition continues with art from the Seventeenth Century, influenced by the fall of the Ming court by invading Manchu armies. This Qing dynasty art often reflects nostalgia for the early Ming dynasty until the strong support for the arts by the Manchu dynasty. The imperial court commissioned and collected artworks and recruited fine craftsmen in the palace workshop.
The exhibition follows the decline of this cultural eminence with the increased influence of Western culture, especially in the city of Shanghai, where Western influences could be seen in the use of linear perspective and chiaroscuro modeling. By contrast, in Canton, which also became an artistic center, artists remained connected to artistic traditions of the court and educated elite and rejected foreign cultural ideas.
“Lyrical Traditions” and the concurrent exhibition, “Whispering Wind,” are the first exhibitions of Chinese art shown at the Frist Center.
The Frist Center for the Visual Arts is at 919 Broadway. For information, 615-244-3340 or www.fristcenter.org .
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