Art displays culture of Yunnan, China

Leia Ostermann

In an attempt to share their culture with the world, four award-winning Chinese artists brought their ethnic art toSacramento State on Thursday, as a part of their California art tour.

“Art is an organic part of Chinese culture,” Sac State

President Alexander Gonzales said. “Chinese people often make friends and renew friendship through the bridge of literature, calligraphy and painting.”

The artists, Hekun, Chen Hongling, Hu Xiaoxing and Yinxin, only spoke Chinese. This was their first time in the United States, Hekun said through a translator. They came from the providence of Yunnan, the origin of art and humanity in Chinese culture, Hekun said.

Yunnan is home to 26 minority groups, which the artists purposed to capture through their art, Hekun said. The artists wanted to speak to the minorities and to give them a voice through their artwork, Hekun and Xiaoxing said.

Art comes from the blending of culture and nature, Hekun and Xiaoxing said. The whole exhibit shows emotion, local culture and diversity, personality and the clear beauty of China, Xiaoxing said.

Xiaoxing used watercolors to paint the relationships between people and their environment. Pointing to his favorite piece, “Fellow of Mt. Alias,” Xiaoxing said the 70-year-old man in the painting had ran the whole way down the mountain to greet him when he visited their village.

The old man was an oat farmer from a self-sustaining minority group, the Yi, Xiaoxing said. The pink shirt and wool cap he wears was hand-made by his wife for special occasions, Xiaoxing said. The old man was proud of what his wife had made and their mountain culture, Xiaoxing said.

“People are really lucky who live in Yunnan. It’s what you would call a paradise,” Xiaoxing said. “Yunnan has the most flowers and the most traditions and the most art. When you visit China you usually go to the big city. But in Yunnan you see culture and the clear sky. As blue as the California sky,” Xiaoxing said.

Their culture also revolves around hard work, Hekun said. Hekun is a traditional reduction woodcut artist who averages 17 hours a day, working on his art.

Woodcut prints are pieces of wood that have been gouged out and painted to create a 3D effect. This particular style of art originated in Yunnan Providence about 50 years ago, said Hekun.

Yinxin, the photographer featured at the exhibit, said that his art is very aesthetic and a taste of life. His images capture nature and feelings, they are parts of his soul, he said.

The art gives us a window into the stories of traditional culture, calligrapher Chen Hongling said.

This exhibit was purposed to share this taste a traditional culture and to show the character of Yunnan and the Yunnanese people. Harmony, environment and creativity, are the themes the four artists wished to express.

Shao Wei, consultant general of the People’s Republic of China in San Francisco, explained that his country and community were committed to cultural exchange and sharing art.

“We want you to look at this art and to see our culture, to

hear our culture and to feel our culture,” Wei said.

The combination of the traditional calligraphy and wood cuts alongside the water colors and photography gave this exhibit a wide lens view into Chinese culture in the Yunnan province, Hekun said.

Yinxin, Xaioxing, Hongling and Hekun have all won awards for their contributions to the art society and have been featured in museums in China, England and multiple countries across Europe.

This exhibit fulfilled the dreams of many; Sac State’s passion for cultural awareness, Hekun’s desire to visit the

United States, the desire for art students to experience non-western art and all four artist’s passion to introduce the traditional Chinese culture to the states.

Leia Ostermann can be reached at [email protected]