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Au takes painting out of the clouds

Updated: 05 07 , 2013 19:39

Au Ho-nien, master of Chinese painting, felt too hungry to go on after lecturing for two hours without having had his breakfast at the University of Chinese Culture in Taipei.

So he decided to draw something edible.

With ink, water and paper he created in one hour a cute, short, whiskered man selling freshly baked shao bing (a special kind of Chinese pancake).

Beside the man, in graceful calligraphy, Au wrote a poem describing his "hunger, coldness and yearning for a hot cake."

Like this painting, titled "Wu Dalang selling pancakes," Au's works now on show at the National Art Museum of China (NAMOC) reveal to visitors a wise, cheerful and easily accessible artist, not at all like the ink paintings of some other artists which seem too lofty to comprehend.

The review exhibition at NAMOC in Beijing, which Au launched to celebrate his 70th birthday, includes 112 representational landscapes, flower and bird paintings, figure paintings and calligraphy that he created over a span of 50 years.

Au enjoys his life-long flirtation with ink and water. The delicate patterns and balances between light and shade convey a liveliness, elegance and sublimity, remarked Yang Lizhou, curator of the museum.

Yang said it is the tradition of Lingnan School artists (including Au) to embrace the contemporary in aesthetic taste and to shuck off hackneyed styles and subject matter that have fettered Chinese painting for centuries.

The exhibition is the second major showing of Lingnan School art at the museum since re-opening after its refurbishment last year.

The first, held last November, featured works of the school's master painter Fang Kending (1901-75).

(Editor-in-chief Li Guixiang. )

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