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The Fralin Museum of Art at U.Va. links ancient masters and modern styles in Chinese ink painting exhibition
Zhao Shao’ang (1905–1998), Landscape, n.d. Ink and color on paper, 12 x 33 in, 30.48 x 83.82 cm. Artist’s signature, two seals of the artist. Courtesy of The Lijin Collection, #147.

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA.- The Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia will feature works of Chinese painters spanning more than five centuries in "Ancient Masters in Modern Styles: Chinese Ink Paintings from the 16th-21st Centuries." The exhibition demonstrates a rich variety of Chinese ink painting and the continuing relevance of tradition to Chinese artists today. The exhibition opens Aug. 31 and runs through Dec. 16.

The Chinese art of ink painting is an ancient and continuously practiced tradition transmitted and learned in part through the study of the works of past masters. Until the 20th century, studying the styles of the greatest artists of the past was seen as the fundamental basis for learning the art of painting in China.

"Chinese painters were aware of the potentially limiting aspects of imitating the ancient masters too closely," said Kathleen Ryor, guest curator for the exhibition and a U.Va. alumna who is now a professor of art history anddirector of Asian studies at Carleton College in Northfield, Minn. "As a result, they self-consciously evoked past masters' style while simultaneously transforming and even subverting them."

"Ancient Masters in Modern Styles" includes works from the museum and the Lijin Collection, which focuses on modern and contemporary interpretations of Chinese ink painting. The collection ispart of the Lijin Guohua Foundation, formed by J. Sanford Miller, a 1971 graduate of the University, and his wife, Vinie Zhang Miller, to promote the appreciation of traditional Chinese culture in the United States.

The exhibition examines the influence of this long tradition on later artists and how they sought to balance reverence for the art of old masters with their own artistic expression. It will explore this through an investigation of style, subject matter and the inscriptions on paintingsfrom the early modern period until the present, as well as the social and historical context of their production.

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