Artist Yu Hong's ongoing exhibition at the Art Museum of the Central Academy of Fine Arts includes the show's centerpiece, A Garden of Dreams, paintings that portray girls who strike gymnastic poses against backgrounds of sheer cliffs, and a glass sculpture.
Several years ago, artist Yu Hong came across an abandoned garden in a Beijing suburb. She walked through it and saw many nearly complete concrete pavilions built in traditional Chinese style and lotus blooming in a pool.
"It was a sunny day, and the blue sky and white clouds were reflected in the water. The flourishing lotus formed a sharp contrast with the pavilions that were in bad shape. The scene looked so beautiful," recalls the 50-year-old painter, who is also a professor at the Central Academy of Fine Arts.
The beauty of the garden inspired Yu to paint A Garden of Dreams last year, an oil work on canvas in which she reproduced the scene in the garden: blue sky, a pavilion, the pool and the lotus bloom. And she juxtaposed with the scene incidents and stories from the past and present, East and West, including plane crashes, explosions, child refugees and ancient Chinese fables, through which viewers can feel a mixture of reality and fantasy.
The huge painting, almost 10 meters in width, is now the centerpiece of her exhibition of the same title.
The display at CAFA's Art Museum includes 19 oil paintings and three glass sculptures.
The title, A Garden of Dreams, or Youyuan Jingmeng in Chinese, is borrowed from the Chinese Kunqu Opera classic The Peony Pavilion, or Mudan Ting, which is based on the work of Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) playwright Tang Xianzu.
The original play is based on a romantic encounter between an official's daughter, Du Liniang, and a young scholar, Liu Mengmei.<
Artist Yu Hong's ongoing exhibition at the Art Museum of the Central Academy of Fine Arts includes the show's centerpiece, A Garden of Dreams, paintings that portray girls who strike gymnastic poses against backgrounds of sheer cliffs.
But what Yu communicates through her painting is unrelated to the plot.
She says the phrase "youyuan jingmeng (walking in the garden and having an interrupted dream)" is to show that when one takes a stroll, one is bound to encounter unexpected, surprising things.
In the painting, she portrays the well-known Chinese fable "mangren moxiang", or blind people touching an elephant.
The story is about how a group of blind people try to visualize what an elephant looks like by touching it and how they have arguments about their conclusions as their perceptions differ.
Her portrayal satirizes those who believe that they can see the whole issue in a given situation when they are aware only about a part of the issue.