A long-anticipated exhibition marking one of the most renowned poets
and calligraphers in Chinese history opens to the public on Tuesday in
Beijing's Palace Museum, China's imperial palace from 1420 to 1911.
of Infinite Refinement: Special Exhibition on the Paintings and
Calligraphy of Su Shi in the Palace Museum Collection will run until Oct
30 in the Hall of Literary Brilliance.
It will be the first
exhibition in the Palace Museum, also known as the Forbidden City, since
the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Su Shi (1037-1101), also known as Su Dongpo, who lived during the Song Dynasty (960-1279), is a household name in China.
78 works on display are either by Su, his teachers and close friends or
were created in later eras by calligraphers and painters to pay tribute
According to Yu Wentao, a researcher of calligraphy
and paintings at the Palace Museum, the quality and diversity of works
related to Su at this exhibition are incomparable.
to showcase most of our collections on Su Shi at one time," Yu said
during a news conference on Monday about the exhibition. "And many of
them have not been publicly displayed since the founding of New China in
Su is often reputed as a cultural icon for his
versatility and his prolific career as a polymath. He is honored as one
of the eight most outstanding essayists from the Tang (618-907) and Song
dynasties. He is also regarded as one of the four leading calligraphers
of the Song Dynasty, and is noted for his contribution to fine art
theories, gastronomy, horticulture and pharmacology.
calligrapher, he was very capable in learning from his predecessors, but
he was also creative and did not dogmatically copy their styles," Yu
told China Daily.
"He represented the spirit of Chinese
intellectuals of his day," he said. "Through the exhibits, you can see
his life through evolving artistic styles."
Some exhibits are letters written by Su and his friends such as Huang Tingjian, who was also a prominent writer of that era.
terms of culture, Su Shi's epoch was full of shining stars," said Ren
Wanping, deputy director of the Palace Museum and curator of the
exhibition. "Their elegant taste had a far-reaching influence on Chinese
Due to their cultural significance, these works
were chosen to be displayed in this special exhibition, which celebrates
the 600th anniversary of the Forbidden City and the 95th anniversary of
the Palace Museum.
According to Ren, the display was
originally planned to include key artifacts on Su from other major
museums, but the COVID-19 pandemic interfered with these arrangements.
Apart from two exhibits on loan from the Tianjin Museum, all the rest
are from the collection of the Palace Museum.
To fill the gap,
curators searched through the Palace Museum's warehouses to find items
belonging to several emperors that paid tribute to Su.
include inkstones and jade items carved with paragraphs from the Former
Ode on the Red Cliffs, Su's most famous piece of writing, which
describes a trip on the Yangtze River.
In December, the Palace
Museum revealed a long list of planned exhibitions to mark its
anniversary. For example, the 10th-century painting Night Revels of Han
Xizai, a milestone in Chinese fine art history, had been scheduled to
make a rare public appearance.
However, Wang Yuegong, another
deputy director of the Palace Museum, said at Monday's news conference
that it would not be exhibited this year due to the influence of the
pandemic on organizing the event.
"We will wait for the appropriate occasion in 2021 or 2022," he said. "Its appearance will be delayed, but our promise cannot be broken."
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