Petals of a metaphor
Updated: 2014-10-21 07:17
By Xu Fan(China Daily)
"Sunflowers are etched in our memories. They are like the poor and starving children wearing patched clothes from my childhood, but we had Mao Zedong then and it was enough," recalled Chinese author Yu Hua, after visiting Xu's studio in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, several years ago.
In the preface to Xu's biography, Sunflower Garden, Yu writes that the plant helped forge a psychological link between the grassroots and their supreme leader at the time, and made the ordinary people feel "close" to Mao.
"The fate of the sunflower in China, which once gained popularity and then lost its glory amid the turbulent times, is similar to the fate of an era," Yu says.
This may explain the wilted and sentimental images of sunflowers created by Xu.
Xu was born in Fujian province. He worked in a factory at age 20 and later majored in oil painting during college. He pursued an advanced education in Germany and returned to China to be an art professor at the China Academy of Art.
More than 100 watercolor paintings, 50 oil paintings, and a series of large-scale sculptures, all under the theme of "East Sunflowers", are displayed at the National Museum of China. The ongoing exhibition, which has received more than 300,000 visitors so far, will run until Nov 18.