Self-expression brings the best of Chinese painter

Ratna Venkat – 

The fact that paintings mirror the moods and feelings of artists finds more than adequate proof at an ongoing exhibition at the Fo Guang Yuan Art Gallery located within the Fo Guang Yuan Buddhist Temple in the East Auckland suburb of Flat Bush.

The Gallery features 62 works of Tian Xutong, Associate Professor and Master Supervisor of Academy of Art & Design at Tsinghua University in Beijing. The exhibition will be open to public daily (except Mondays) from 1030 am to 4 pm until March 27. 2016.

It would move to the Fo Guang Yuan Art Gallery (2 Harakeke Street, Riccarton) at the Fo Guang Yuan Temple in Christchurch on April 16 and remain open daily (except Mondays) from 1030 am to 4 pm until July 24, 2016.

Inaugurated by a group of people representing a cross-section of the communities led by Abbess Manshin at a special function held on January 1, 2016, the exhibition contains both sold and unsold paintings of Mr Tian.

Transcending barriers

True to the teachings of Gautama Buddha (who is considered by Hindus to be the Ninth Incarnation of Lord Vishnu), the Founder of Buddhism, self-realisation is the beginning of a true state of bliss, transcending manmade barriers of language, religion, caste and geographic territory. This self-realisation, achieved through introspection, simple living and high thinking, is the key to self-expression, which in turn paves the path to the Ultimate Truth.

Perceiving the paintings of Mr Tian, it would be impossible to overlook the core of his mastery of the art- a Buddhist Monk seen in each of them, perches on the precipice of challenges, conflicts, Nature, and even human beings. Some paintings feature more monks, perhaps reminding us of the inescapable reality that ‘happiness is within one’s self.’

According to Abbess Manshin of Fo Guang Yuan Temple, Mr Tian expresses his own concept of life.

“This comes naturally to Mr Tian. He is a master of the ‘Zen Art’ ink painting with Chinese Characteristics, bringing profound traditional culture and meaning to convey a unique way of Chinese people to experience life,” she said.

True connotations

A biographic sketch described Mr Tian as a perspicacious Chinese ink painter whose life and art are one and the same with the philosophy that he depicts.

“Tian Xu Tong’s name has become synonymous with Zen for his distinctive black-and-white ink-paintings of sagacious monks meditating on boats on water or on mountain tops insinuated by nuances of lines painted in plain, abstracted space. Pure, natural, elementary and calm, Mr Tian’s composed seriocomic allegories take the imagination through boundless space with a leisurely and carefree lightness.”

Incorporating and expressing both the clarity and power of focus, and infusing his works with the clever delight and simplicity of Zen philosophy on rice paper through ingenious brushwork and dexterity of conceptualisation, Mr Tian deceptively simple works embrace paradox on several levels and dimensions.

Intensity of mind

Often appearing straightforward and outwardly amusing, one finds great strength and intensity of mind and thought in his spatial projections upon deeper and often recurring reflection.

Since the late 1990s, Tian Xu Tong’s one-of-a-kind blend of abstract sage, serenity and drollness have brought a world of audiences not merely aesthetic satisfaction, but on a great level, peace and a sense of spiritual fulfillment.

A graduate of the Central Academy of Fine Arts & Craft with a major in ink painting, Mr Tian is known as a congenial, spirited and highly creative artist, a master of the profession, and as the author of at least 30 publications, ranging from guides on sketching techniques and innovative design to Chinese decorative art and books on ink painting collections.


What: Zen Heart Travel

Ink Paintings of Xutong Tian

Where: Fo Guang Yuan Art Gallery

16 Stancombe Road, Flat Bush, Auckland

When: January 1 to March 27, 2016

1030 am to 4 pm daily (except Mondays)

Contact: Phone (09) 2744880; Fax: (09) 2744550


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