Fragrant flowers


In the exhibition Hazy mountains, fragrant flowers – Traditional Chinese ink painting in the 19th and 20th centuries of the Kogart House in Budapest, nearly a hundred scroll paintings and calligraphy are on display from the Three Gorges Museum of Chongqing until 30 March. Almost all the paintings lent from China are from the late Qing era, academic works of conservative taste, which carefully imitate the great classical models. Perhaps only the three images by Liu Xiling (刘锡玲, 1848-1923) are truly original and exciting: their ragged brushwork and abstract forms already foreshadow the expressiveness of contemporary Chinese ink painting, as well as its ironic relationship to the classical canon.

This illustration is a different work by Liu Xiling; his exhibited works do not figure in the catalog.

However, nature compensates us for the low-key intensity of the paintings. The four magnolia trees in full bloom at the street front of the Kogart House reveal with explosive force what the masters at the end of the imperial era tried to sublimate from the paintings of an earlier century they deemed happier. The visitors stop in the garden, just like the passers-by outside the fence. They happily photograph each other in front of the sea of flowers.


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