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

[Photo provided to China Daily]

The artists often traveled with their students to Dunhuang to study "the fruits of cultural communication between the East and West some 1,000 years ago", says Fan Jinshi, 78, a former head of Dunhuang Academy China.

Fan worked in Gansu for 53 years. She regularly received groups of CAFA teachers and students who studied cave art in the 1960s.

They spent whole days in the caves making copies of the grotto paintings, she says.

"I'm an archaeologist, so I know very little about fine arts. And though at the time I was impressed by their hard work, I often wondered why artists like them would feel so excited about the caves," Fan says.

"Now after seeing the reproduction, I understand them more deeply. The grottoes show the achievements of ancient Chinese artists of several generations," she adds.

The groups of artists who have visited Dunhuang over the past decades have left several thousands of copies of great accuracy and refinement, according to Hou Liming, director of the fine arts institute affliated to Dunhuang Academy China.

He says these works show the brilliance of Dunhuang's art to the world.

"Through meticulous brushstrokes, they have conducted a dialog of soul and belief with the ancient painters. Their accomplishments help people get to the depth of a civilization of a thousand years ago, and they communicate the persistence and firmness of those who made Dunhuang's art so glorious," he says.

The exhibition gathers the works of leading contemporary artists, such as Xu Bing and Zhan Wang, whose artworks not only reflect their understanding of the ancient Chinese outlook of the world, but they have also borrowed elements of Dunhuang art, including the vibrant colors, to create wearable designs such as costumes.

Fan Di'an, the head of CAFA and the exhibition's curator, says cultural traditions need to inspire creators in different fields today. He believes that the film trilogy, The Lord of the Rings, has set a good example of "fusing legends, myths and philosophies into a blockbuster with the help of special effects."

He hopes that the exhibition can inspire the development of more creative forms to enliven Dunhuang art.

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