FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Rose Mary Gorman: (615) 744-3332, ”
Ellen Jones Pryor: (615) 243-1311, ”, ”
LYRICAL TRADITIONS: FOUR CENTURIES OF CHINESE PAINTING
FROM THE PAPP COLLECTION
AT THE FRIST CENTER FOR THE VISUAL ARTS
Frist Center’s First Exhibition of Chinese Art
On View June 22–Oct. 7, 2007
NASHVILLE, TENN.—(June 4, 2007)—The Frist Center for the Visual Arts will open Lyrical Traditions: Four Centuries of Chinese Painting from the Papp Collection Friday, June 22, 2007. Drawn from the collection of Phoenix (AZ) residents Marilyn and Roy Papp, Lyrical Traditions comprises 60 evocative handscrolls, hanging scrolls, fans and albums produced during the Ming (1368–1644) and Qing (1644–1911) dynasties. On view through Oct. 7, 2007, Lyrical Traditions and the concurrent exhibition, Whispering Wind: Recent Chinese Photography, will be the first exhibitions of Chinese art shown at the Frist Center.
In conjunction with Lyrical Traditions, Vanderbilt University and the Nashville Public Library each will feature exhibitions with work by Chinese artists this summer. Beauty and Power: Chinese Art from the Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Collection will open at Vanderbilt’s Fine Arts Gallery Thursday, June 21 and continue through Sept. 22, 2007. A Moment of Eternity: The Art and Expression of Chinese Poetry Calligraphy, featuring the artwork of master calligrapher and poet Huang Xiang, will open at the Nashville Public Library’s Fine Art Gallery Saturday, June 23 and continue through Oct. 14, 2007.
The works in Lyrical Traditions—remarkable for their poetic tranquility—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
However, landscapes as a subject most fully represent the ambitions of the Chinese artists, embodying not just their appreciation of the beauties and wonders of nature, but also their profound understanding of the universe and their sense of humanity’s place in the world. The numerous landscape paintings in the exhibition convey a sense of cosmic majesty through sweeping vistas and dizzying mountain views, reflecting this Daoist-influenced respect for nature.
An important distinction to consider when looking at Chinese art is that while many cultures in the West favor individuality and innovation, painting in China has historically promoted adherence to tradition and reverence for the past. Lyrical Traditions demonstrates how artists have followed stylistic conventions and perpetuated ancient social values related to religious and philosophical beliefs for hundreds of years, while also exploring a wide range of expressive approaches within the given framework.
Also, a close relationship exists between painting and calligraphy in Chinese art. Although both mediums use similar materials—brush and ink—calligraphy is often considered a higher, or purer, form of artistic expression than painting because both verbal and visual communication may be achieved with a single Chinese character. Many of the works in the exhibition, therefore, also include poetic inscriptions.
“We are pleased to present Lyrical Traditions, our first exhibition dedicated to Chinese art. Numerous aspects of the country’s rich history and heritage are reflected in these beautiful paintings, allowing us to better understand an important culture that is unfamiliar to many Americans,” says Katie Delmez, curator at the Frist Center. “I encourage our visitors to look closely at the works because their richness is found in such small subtleties as a tiny traveler along a winding mountain path or the graceful sway of a tree’s branches in the wind.”
From Ming Dynasty Traditions to New Cities, New Patrons
Lyrical Traditions begins with art created by both court artists and scholar-artists during the Ming dynasty (1368–1644), which had restored native Chinese rule after nearly 100 years of foreign Mongol control. Under the dynasty’s long reign, painting flourished as diverse schools of artists coexisted and produced a variety of styles. Court artists, instructed to follow earlier, pre-Mongol styles of the Song dynasty (960–1279), created large-scale landscapes and figural narratives favored by the court as images that would glorify the new dynasty and convey its benevolence and majesty. The amateur scholar-artists, who represented the educated elite and official class, were considered to have a higher status than court artists because they painted in a more personal and expressive manner and did not merely make copies of what they saw in front of them.
The exhibition continues with art from the 17th century, influenced by the fall of the Ming court to invading Manchu armies. Scholar-artists retreated into voluntary exile from government service, not willing to serve under the new court, known as the Qing dynasty. Thus, many men who were trained for government service became artists instead. Nostalgia for the previous Ming dynasty is apparent in paintings from the Qing dynasty, which tenaciously cling to tradition in the face of the outsiders’ conquest.
As the Qing dynasty became more secure in its rule, it also became a major source of arts patronage. The Manchu imperial court played an important role in preserving Chinese artistic traditions, by both commissioning and collecting artworks, and by recruiting the finest craftsmen in the palace workshop. This flourishing of the arts reflected an extended period of political stability and economic abundance that extended from the mid-18th century into the 19th century.
The culture of scholarship and the arts of Beijing’s court during this time also thrived in cities in the Yangzi River valley as scholar-officials came and went for duty in the capital. These scholar-officials were both art patrons and painters themselves.
The exhibition follows the decline of this cultural eminence, diminished by the first Opium War with Britain in the 1840s and the devastation of the Taiping Rebellion from 1850 to 1864. As Beijing’s power waned, the port cities of Shanghai and Canton became art centers fueled by the social and economic changes. In Shanghai, a city that was international in scope and tolerant of dissidence in the arts, local populations boomed and the influx of foreigners introduced aspects of Western culture, which in turn influenced the art of the time and helped spur the dissolution of elitist, traditionalist ideals. Some elements of Western art were adopted, such as linear perspective and chiaroscuro modeling.
By contrast, Cantonese artists remained connected to artistic traditions of the court and educated elite and rejected foreign cultural ideas. The presence of foreigners provided an influx of portable cultural property, yet few artists seem to have adopted elements of Western art.
Chinese art forms
Handscrolls: The handscroll is the oldest known portable format used by Chinese artists. Just as the Chinese language is written from right to left, handscrolls are painted from right to left and should be viewed this way. Handscrolls may be very long, but they are not meant to be viewed or unrolled completely at one time. Rather, the left hand unrolls the scroll to a length of approximately 20 inches. After the unrolled segment is viewed, the right hand rolls up the scroll as the left hand unrolls another segment for viewing. Seen this way, handscrolls have a cinematic quality, like an unfolding story. Viewing a handscroll has been likened to traveling down a river, with new vistas opening up around each bend.
The earliest work in the exhibition, Enjoying the Mid-Autumn Moon in the Bamboo Villa (1486), is a handscroll by artist Shen Zhou (1427–1509), one of the most revered painters of the Ming dynasty.
Hanging scrolls: Unlike handscrolls, hanging scrolls reveal the painted story all at once, as the scroll hangs on a wall. Hanging scrolls became a popular format around the 11th century. When hung in a home, scrolls were changed frequently, often with the seasons. Frequent rotation prevents damage of the silk or paper due to light and dirt and allows the owner to view a variety of artwork. Of the numerous hanging scrolls featured in Lyrical Traditions, one example is Conversing on Ancient Matters in Snowy Mountains by Lan Ying (1585–after 1660).
Albums: The album format, similar to a book, originated as a handscroll that was then folded up accordion-style into leaves of uniform size, opening from the right. Albums often feature one page of illustration while the facing page has a calligraphic poem. For display, albums may be separated, and the leaves removed, so that all images may be shown at the same time.
Fans: A common Chinese art form, the fan is challenging for an artist, as he or she must accommodate a curved surface, as well as the folds of the fan. There are six fans featured in the exhibition.
Sponsors and Organizer
The Frist Center for the Visual Arts gratefully acknowledges the following exhibition sponsors:
• 2007 Platinum Sponsor: The HCA Foundation on behalf of HCA and the TriStar Family of Hospitals
• 2007 Gold Sponsor: First Tennessee
Lyrical Traditions: Four Centuries of Chinese Painting from the Papp Collection has been organized by Phoenix Art Museum.
Saturdays, June 2, 9, 16, 23, 30 Frist Center Kids Club:
1:00–2:30 p.m. Good Fortune Boxes
Meet in the Upper-Level Foyer
Free: call 615-744-3357 to reserve a space
Saturdays in June, Kids Club members will celebrate the idea of passing on good fortune, or Fu, to others through the creation of a good fortune box. Kids Club offers exciting opportunities for children to discover, explore, and create art. Free membership includes a Kids Club card, art classes, and additional rewards for participation. 2007 Kids Club Sponsor: Northwestern Mutual Financial Network, the Pruett Financial Group
Friday, June 22 Curator’s Perspective: “Lyrical Traditions: The
6:30 p.m. Pleasures of Viewing Chinese Paintings”
Dr. Janet Baker, curator of Asian Art at Phoenix Art Museum will discuss the exhibition Lyrical Traditions, which offers an in-depth view of the poetic visions of the artists who painted in classical Chinese society. As poetry and pictures are combined in these works, the personality and lives of the artists are revealed to the viewer. In addition, Dr. Baker will discuss how the tastes of the collectors are reflected in their choices of certain schools of artists who set the standards for the educated elite of the past four centuries of Chinese painting.
Thursday, July 12 Off the Wall Lecture Series, Part 1: “Becoming
(Part 2, August 9; Uncarved Wood: Daoist Themes in the Roy and
Part 3, Sept. 13) Marilyn Papp Collection”
Dr. Ronnie Littlejohn, Chairman of the Department of Philosophy and Director of Asian Studies at Belmont University, will discuss the various Daoist themes in many of the paintings featured in Lyrical Traditions: Four Centuries of Chinese Painting from the Papp Collection. The great tradition of Daoism’s beliefs and practice has touched virtually every aspect of Chinese culture through its long and great history. Dr. Littlejohn will focus on the subjects of immortals; the connection to Daoist text with fishermen and wood gatherers; the Zhuangzi; and the place of nature and pavilion in the Daoist history. This Off the Wall Lecture series is presented in collaboration with Belmont University’s Asian Studies Program.
Saturdays, July 7, 14, 21, 28 Frist Center Kids Club:
1:00–2:30 p.m. Dancing Dragon
Meet in the Upper-Level Foyer
Free: call 615-744-3357 to reserve a space
Saturdays in July Kids Club members will be creating small working models of the lion or dragon costuming used to celebrate Chinese New Year. Kids Club offers exciting opportunities for children to discover, explore, and create art. Free membership includes a Kids Club card, art classes, and additional rewards for participation. 2007 Kids Club Sponsor: Northwestern Mutual Financial Network, the Pruett Financial Group.
Friday, July 20 ARTini
Meet in Frist Center Grand Lobby
Included with gallery admission
Anne Henderson, Frist Center Director of Education, will lead a fun, informal conversation about the Lyrical Traditions exhibition. Complete your evening with music in the Grand Lobby, martinis at the cash bar, and visiting with friends.
Saturday, July 21 Adult Painting and Calligraphy Workshop
10:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m.
Frist Center, Classroom A
Cost: $35, reservations required
To register, call 615-744-4904
This one-day workshop will teach adults traditional Chinese techniques in calligraphy and painting. Chinese painting and calligraphy instructor Dr. Guanping Zheng, an associate professor at Middle Tennessee State University, will teach the workshop.
Dr. Zheng’s Chinese brush painting employs traditional and modern techniques. His works have been exhibited and collected in China and the United States. This workshop is presented in conjunction with the Chinese Arts Alliance of Nashville.
Thursday, August 9 Off the Wall Lecture Series, Part 2: “What
(Part 3, Sept. 13) Every Chinese Person Knows: Cultural Literacy
6:30 p.m. in Lyrical Traditions”
Cultural literacy is the ability to understand effortlessly the allusions, idioms, and images that constitute a culture and that might be overlooked or totally misunderstood by one from another culture. In this presentation, Ms. Li Qingjun of Middle Tennessee State University and associate professor of foreign languages at Zhengzhou University (China), will highlight a number of paintings from the Papp Collection that represent readily identifiable aspects of Chinese cultural literacy, setting them in context and illuminating them for non-Chinese viewers. The presentation will include paintings with festival subjects as well as those with references to folk and narrative traditions that have created the Chinese consciousness and sensibility for generations. Moderated by Dr. Ronnie Littlejohn, Chairman of the Department of Philosophy and Director of Asian Studies at Belmont University. This Off the Wall Lecture series is presented in collaboration with Belmont University’s Asian Studies Program.
Saturday, August 11 Teen Calligraphy Workshop
10:00 a.m.–Noon, and 1:00–3:00 p.m.
$30 fee, registration required
Learn the art of calligraphy—a delight to the eye and inspiration for the spirit—in this workshop for teens. Teens will learn about the relationship between traditional Chinese painting and calligraphy by using traditional Chinese inks and brushes. Chinese painting and calligraphy instructor Dr. Guanping Zheng, an associate professor at Middle Tennessee State University, will teach the workshop. Dr. Zheng’s Chinese brush painting employs traditional and modern techniques. His works have been exhibited and collected in the U.S. and China.
Saturday, August 18 Tai Chi Chuan Demonstration and Class
Frist Center Turner Courtyard
Watch a 20-minute demonstration with a tai chi master Dr. Lijun Ma, a faculty member of the Vanderbilt Pathology Department, and then take a 40-minute lesson. Dr. Lijun Ma started his tai chi chuan training at the age of seven with Master Xi-Fang Chen. He has won numerous championships in China and the United States. He taught tai chi chuan at the Nashville Chinese School and teaches individual classes. Presented in conjunction with the Chinese Arts Alliance of Nashville.
Thursday, August 23 Gallery Talk
Included with gallery admission
Join Frist Center curator Katie Delmez as she discusses the exhibition Lyrical Traditions: Four Centuries of Chinese Painting from the Papp Collection.
Friday, August 24 Films at the Frist: HERO (Ying xiong)
Nominated for Best Foreign Language Film by both the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards in 2003 and starring Jet Li, Hero tells the story of a king whose greatest adversaries are conquered by one of his magistrates. Dr. Ronnie Littlejohn, Chairman of the Department of Philosophy and Director of Asian Studies at Belmont University, will introduce the film. The film is in Chinese with English subtitles. (2002, China, Yimou Zhang, 99 minutes)
Sunday, August 26 Family Day
Frist Center for the Visual Arts
Enjoy a fun-filled day of exciting art activities, live concerts and theatrical performances with your friends and family! The Chinese Arts Alliance of Nashville (CAAN) will present a unique dance and theatre production in the auditorium. The traditional lion dance will welcome guests in the Grand Lobby. Enjoy interactive martial arts and yo-yo demonstrations in the Turner Courtyard and exciting activities in the upper-level studios relating to the exhibitions on view, Lyrical Traditions and Life’s Pleasures: The Ashcan Artists’ Brush with Leisure, 1895–1925.
Thursday, September 13 Off the Wall Lecture Series, Part 3: “Hidden
6:30 p.m. Dragons: Chinese Landscape Paintings from the
Auditorium Roy and Marilyn Papp Collection”
Traditional Chinese landscape paintings depict nature as a harmonious balancing of dynamic energies. Referring to landscape paintings from the Lyrical Traditions exhibition, Dr. Corinne Dale, Professor of Literature at Belmont University, will focus on dragon-shaped clouds, mountains, rivers, forests, and paths. She will explain that Chinese dragons are powerful forces of nature that express the Daoist worldview and correlate to the dynamic flow of Chinese landscape paintings. Moderated by Dr. Ronnie Littlejohn, Chairman of the Department of Philosophy and Director of Asian Studies at Belmont University. This Off the Wall Lecture series is presented in collaboration with Belmont University’s Asian Studies Program.
The Frist Center for the Visual Arts, located at 919 Broadway in downtown Nashville, Tenn., is an art exhibition center dedicated to presenting the finest visual art from local, regional, U.S. and international sources in a program of changing exhibitions. The Frist Center’s Martin ArtQuest Gallery features over 30 interactive stations relating to Frist Center exhibitions. Gallery admission to the Frist Center is free for visitors 18 and under and to Frist Center members. Frist Center admission is $8.50 for adults, $7.50 for seniors and military, and $6.50 for college students with ID. Thursday evenings, 5:00 – 9:00 p.m., admission is free for college students with a valid college ID. Discounts are offered for groups of 10 or more with advance reservation by calling (615) 744-3246. The Frist Center is open seven days a week: Mondays through Wednesdays and Saturdays, 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Thursdays and Fridays, 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.; and Sundays, 1:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., with the Café opening at noon. Additional information is available by calling (615) 244-3340 or by visiting our Web site at http://www.fristcenter.org.
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