Artists embarked on a cultural exchange trip to Myanmar sketch the gilded Shwedagon Pagoda at Kandawgyi Lake in Yangon, Myanmar. (KENRICK LEE / CHINA DAILY)
The picturesque landscape and the Buddhist culture in Yangon are the sources of inspiration for most artists.
Eight Chinese artists embarked on a 10-day art and culture exchange visit to Myanmar from Nov 14. The program is co-organized by China Daily and the Chinese Culture and Art Association.
In the first four days of their visit, the artists used their cameras and paintbrushes to capture the breathtaking sceneries including the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon and Kuthodaw Pagoda in Mandalay.
Amazed by the elegantly solemn Shwedagon Pagoda, the artists collectively created a painting featuring the iconic landmark in Yangon, and presented it as a gift to the Chinese Embassy in Yangon. The day after, the artists sketched the famous pagoda again, but from a different angle – from across the Kandawgyi Lake, the gilded stupa recognizably glittered in the far distance.
“I’m seeking for an interpretation of the pagoda from a traditional Chinese aesthetic perspective,” said renowned Chinese painter Zhang Yaoming.
Painting is not only about depicting the object itself, but also portraying the painter’s feelings about it, explained Zhang. He considered sketching the pagoda at different locations “experimental” and “a process of searching for the most accurate interpretation.”
“My initial impression (of the pagoda) was just splendid and culturally rich. As I explored the city further, I found that the pagoda is not only a structure. It is the essence of the whole city, as the spirit of Buddhism infiltrates the city, every corner of it and every aspect of people’s life, from the local market to the village in the rural area,” he said.
Overwhelmed by the striking scenery and Buddhist culture in Myanmar, artists put their pen to paper and improvised. (WANG YUKE / CHINA DAILY)
The artists’ passion has not been affected despite the hot weather and unfavorable weather conditions.
With no chairs and desks, Cai Zhixin bent over a bench, holding a platter from the hotel as a makeshift palette. The 82-year-old is no stranger to sketching in inconvenient environment. “I have to make the most of available resources, and try to capture the prominent features of the architecture. For example, this is not an ideal spot to observe the pagoda. I have to imagine I am sitting at a higher point and picture the pagoda’s image in my mind. The pagoda would show layers of dimensions when viewed from the vantage point,” Cai said.
Crouching on the dirt ground, Dong Xiyuan considered the painting process “a labor of love.” “I don’t take it as a toll as I am interacting with nature.” He is also not new to such experience, having trekked over 50,000 kilometers since 2005 just to paint. “My fingers turned stiff in the biting cold winter,” he said.
Yang Xun, a master of using ink on paper, chose watercolor this time to paint the gold-plated stupa. “I think the ink is not enough to express what I’m thinking of the pagoda. Polychromatic technique is more appropriate to define it,” he said.
Some of their sketches completed during the journey will be exhibited in Yangon on Nov 21 and 22, along with their own masterpieces.
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