Thursday, July 5, 2007

I don't mean to be rude, but I can't really see anything in this painting. But I suppose I've never been quite sure as to why the Mona Lisa is the Western world's "Mona Lisa." It's a beautiful painting, sure, Leonardo's magnum opus, but the puzzling facial expression of Lisa Gherardini (think I knew a girl from New Jersey with the same name), doesn't seem like it should be the most recognizable and revered piece of Western art in the world. In any event, this painting above, "Along the River During the Qingming Festival," painted on a scroll by Zhang Zeduan in the early 12th century, is China's most famous painting, or as some call it, "China's Mona Lisa." Keith Bradsher, Hong Kong Bureau Chief of the New York Times, published a story Tuesday about "Qingming Festival," as it is part of a 32-piece exhibit of Chinese works now on display at the Hong Kong Museum of Art. The exhibit, aptly titled "The Pride of China," commemorates the 10-year anniversary of Britain handing over Hong Kong to China and is aimed to drum up some Chinese nationalism in the territory. As Bradsher writes, "'Qingming Festival' is famous partly for its involvement over centuries in palace intrigues, theft and wars, and partly for its detailed, geometrically accurate images of bridges, wine shops, sedan chairs and boats beautifully juxtaposed with flowing lines for the depiction of mountains and other natural scenery." But as Hong Kong Keith also points out, that like the Mona Lisa, this painting is famous for being famous. For all of my under-16 readers, kind of like Paris Hilton. To me, again no disrespect to China's art lovers, "Qingming Festival" looks like an ornate welcome mat. But I've never professed to be an expert of Chinese painting.

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