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French professor showcases Chinese ink paintings in exhibition

Updated: 2024-04-11 16:24 ( chinadaily.com.cn )
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Professor Benoit Vermander of Fudan University showcases more than 60 ink paintings created over the past decade. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

A Chinese ink painting exhibition, featuring paintings created by Professor Benoit Vermander of Fudan University, kicked off on Wednesday at the university in Shanghai, aiming to promote cultural exchanges between China and France.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and France. The exhibition is part of the university's celebration of this special occasion and will run through till April 25.

The exhibition showcases more than 60 ink paintings created over the past decade by the French professor, who is also known as Wei Mingde (魏明德), as well as his painting alias Bendu (笨笃).

According to Vermander, his inspiration of the exhibition came from the poetry of Victor Segalen (1878-1919), a French doctor, archaeologist, novelist and poet known for his deep connection with China.

Through the artworks displayed in the exhibition, which focus on diverse themes such as animals, natural landscapes and people, visitors are able to feel the artist's intimate relationship with nature and daily life, as well as see the integration of the Western composition and Chinese ink painting skills.

Vermander noted that he regards paintings as an expression of himself in an intertwined whole in daily life and dynamic feelings. With the ink painting brush, he hopes to show his inner explorations, dynamics and movement of the heart freely, instead of planning on a fixed theme in advance.

"What I like most in Chinese ink painting is the freedom it allows you. I am not skillful in Western painting as I have bad eyes, and it is not my character to be cautious, careful and plan everything (as usually needed in Western painting). With Chinese calligraphy and ink painting, I could liberate my inner wildness," said Vermander.

Making his first visit to China in 1987, Vermander was captivated by Chinese calligraphy. After 1994, he shifted to Chinese painting and has continued ever since. Over the three decades he has been in China, his main research interests have focused on China's local religions; he has also been organizing and translating Chinese classics to promote cultural exchanges between Chinese and Western civilizations.

"We are in an important year in the China-France relationship, as we celebrate the 60-year diplomatic bond between the two nations. We have launched the China-France Year of Culture and Tourism, and expect more exchanges and visits along with the upcoming Olympics (in Paris). There will be a bunch of activities taking place in Shanghai to promote cultural exchanges as well, including musicals, opera performances and art exhibitions," said Joan Valadou, consul general of France in Shanghai, at the exhibition's opening ceremony.

Liu Kexin contributed to this story.

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