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Chinese Opera Characters Ink Painting

Zhu Gang, National level artist, famous Chinese opera characters painter.

Dean of the Art Department of Shanghai Institute of Visual Arts, Distinguished Professor of Shanghai Academy of Fine Arts, part-time researcher of Shanghai Jiaotong University, painter and member of the college committee of Shanghai Painting and Calligraphy Academy. 

He held a solo painting exhibition in New York on an invitation, and has attended various national art exhibitions which involved both domestic and foreign major painting exhibitions, such as “the 22nd Round-table Exhibition of American National Arts Club” among others.

For centuries, Chinese Opera Performances with their rich sounds, captivating stories and movements sit at the heart & soul of a traditional Chinese art form. The characters of the opera are expressive, vivid and exaggerated, with a strong oriental style. Its unique visual effects and strong artistic appeal have also deeply attracted Chinese painters of the past dynasties. Among contemporary opera characters painting artists, Zhu Gang is well cultured in literature and has a solid background in painting. His opera characters painting combines Chinese and Western styles and uses both realistic and freehand techniques, which has attracted wide attention from contemporary art circles. He uses simple shapes, bright colors and crisscrossed lines to create characters, which always gives people a refreshing feeling.

On December 9, 2020,China Cultural Center in Sydney and Zhu Gang Studio of Ink Painting of Chinese Opera Characters, jointly launched Chinese Opera Characters Ink Painting Online Exhibition on the official website of CCC in Sydney. 50 wonderful paintings showcase the outstanding skills of China contemporary painters, and display the charming moments of traditional Chinese opera performance, to enhance the understanding of Australian netizen on traditional Chinese art.

Highlights of the Exhibition
Hiding In The Boat

Hiding in the Boat applies a brighter blue in the performer’s costume, changes the embroidery pattern on the cloak to make it appear more life-like, and lengthens the body of the paddle while shortening its handle in the performer’s hand, which makes the whole painting more dynamic and visually impactful. —Weng Sizai

A Poor Scholar and His Marriage

A Poor Scholar and His Marriage depicts a scene in Kunqu opera Joy of the Fisherman. It tells the story of a poor scholar, who makes a living by selling books, is loved at first sight by a woman, who is from a local wealthy family and bluffed by her father to marry her off to the scholar if she refuses to marry the influential official her father wants her to. Zhu Gang depicts the typical scene where the woman stoops down, pleading with sorrows in front of the scholar who is in a panic. Their facial expressions are vividly and exaggeratedly depicted. With the poor scholar’s sleeve at the center of the painting, Zhu Gang obviously tries to use exaggeration to reveal the scholar’s unexpected feeling and his tension with the woman. —Weng Sizai

Lady Zhaojun

His painting Lady Zhaojun Departs the Frontier depicts Wang Zhaojun looking far into the distance, and whipping to make the horse run faster, with her pheasant tail and skirt fluttering, but her feet point to the home direction. His ingenious depiction presents the character’s inner world of tears and reluctance to leave her homeland. This contrast of the character’s body language is created by following the philosophy of “Ziwu” (meaning the contrast concept of day and night) in Peking opera. His novelty depiction has a great visual impact and perfectly presents the character’s feelings. —Weng Sizai

Peony Pavilion

Peony Pavilion which depicts the date of Du Liniang and Liu Mengmei in front of the Peony Pavilion. Just like the opera, it does not paint any background, but depict their back and body language of carrying each other, which are good enough for the audience to feel their love in the bright spring with flowers blooming. These works reflect Zhu Gang’s understanding of Kunqu. He doesn’t focus on depicting aria, but the detailed movements and facial expressions, from which audience can feel the emotional changes of Du Liniang and Liu Mengmei. The audience can also see how Zhu Gang uses Chinese painting skills to recreate the opera. His works feature empty space, simple fine lines, and life-like depiction. His ink painting perfectly presents the characters and scenes in Chinese opera.—Shang Hui

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