Novel way to bring the grottoes' treasures to life

Updated: 2016-01-19 08:47

By Lin Qi(China Daily)

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Novel way to bring the grottoes' treasures to life

The copy of a Magao Grottoes cave painting by Lei Xiufeng, among pieces on show at the ongoing exhibition Crossing Dunhuang in Beijing.[Photo provided to China Daily]

The discovery of an important cache of Buddhist sutras in Dunhuang, in 1900 had a profound influence on Chinese fine arts in the 20th century.

And since the 1930s, masses of Chinese artists have journeyed to Northwest China's Gansu province to be inspired by the magnificent cave art there.

Among the most well-known of these artists is Zhang Daqian, whose Dunhuang-inspired ink paintings have sold for tens of millions of yuan at auctions.

Even today, artists working in various mediums and using various experimental approaches still see a pilgrimage to Dunhuang as a must.

Crossing Dunhuang, an exhibition at Beijing's Taimiao Ancestral Temple, takes visitors on a journey through the mystic grottoes on the ancient Silk Road.

A juxtaposition of 300 fresco painting copies and contemporary art reflect the spiritual links among artists from different periods.

The exhibition is comparable to Dunhuang: Songs of Living Beings, another show now underway at the Shanghai Himalayas Museum that runs through March.

The display in Beijing opens with the Echo of Civilization exhibition series by Beijing's Central Academy of Fine Arts. Imitations of the cave paintings on show come from the collection of CAFA and the Dunhuang Academy China, the institution that focuses on Dunhuang.

Among the artists whose works are on show is Chang Shuhong (1904-94). He graduated from the prestigious National School of Fine Arts in Paris, but sacrificed his potentially bright career prospects as he chose to protect Dunhuang's art.

Chang arrived at the Mogao Grottoes in 1943 and became the founding member and the first director of the Dunhuang Academy China. Because of his lifelong devotion to Dunhuang's preservation, Chang is hailed as the "guardian of Dunhuang".

Some of the other artists whose works are on display are modern masters who taught at CAFA - Ye Qianyu, Sun Zongwei and Wu Zuoren.

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