Feature: Collection of ancient Chinese paintings appeals to Malaysian audiences

By Wang YiMao Pengfei
  • World
  • Monday, 29 May 2023

by Wang Yi, Mao Pengfei

KUALA LUMPUR, May 28 (Xinhua) -- With the sound of the Guqin, an image of the classic painting "Thousands of Miles of Rivers and Mountains" was projected on the covers of books, a comprehensive collection of ancient Chinese paintings that appeared on the Kuala Lumpur International Book Fair (KLIBF) with China as a guest of honor. Displayed with light and shadow, the collection has allowed the audiences to immerse themselves in the beauty of ancient Chinese painting art.

Tan Kai Shu, deputy secretary-general of the Malaysia-China Cultural and Arts Association, who had been attracted to the fair said "It's amazing. Compiling this book is a great and arduous work and will benefit future generations."

Tan has been engaged in cultural and artistic exchanges between Malaysia and China for more than 20 years. As a lover of traditional Chinese art, he was moved especially when he saw the addresses of the paintings in the collection.

"Many treasures of Chinese culture and art have been lost overseas. The staff went to various parts of the world to deal with these works of art with digital processing technologies and compile them into a giant collection. The difficulties are beyond my imagination. The collection restores the true essence and spirit of ancient paintings to the greatest extent. I hope that the National Library of Malaysia can keep one set!" Tan said.

The Comprehensive Collection of Ancient Chinese Paintings, a project by Zhejiang University and Zhejiang Provincial Administration of Cultural Heritage, is by far the world's most comprehensive collection of pictures of paintings in ancient China. It covers a sum of more than 12,000 pieces of Chinese paintings on paper, silk (including brocade and damask), linen, and other materials from 263 museums and other cultural institutions at home and abroad.

Sim Polenn, director of Henry Butcher Art Auctioneers, likes the collection very much, saying it gives him both shock and inspiration. Pointing to a painting of Wen Zhengming, a Chinese painter during the Ming dynasty, he said: "This collection not only shows the whole picture of every piece of art but also marks clearly the magnifying scale. I am very touched by this detail. The editors are really attentive. I can learn this detail when I make auction catalogs in the future."

On the spot, Xinhua journalists also met some middle school students coming from Johor state of Malaysia. Among them is Zhang Yuhong, aged 13, who had been learning calligraphy for three years.

"At first, I learned calligraphy on the spur of the moment. But gradually I become more interested in it. After appreciating some calligraphy in the collection, I think I'll insist on learning and inheriting it."

According to Chen Jie, deputy editor-in-chief of Zhejiang University Press, the collection is an encyclopedia for the study of ancient Chinese art and culture, as well as an irreplaceable eternal record of human classical art history. This unprecedented cultural project was realized with the support of cultural institutions and collectors all over the world.

The KLIBF, an important cultural feast in Malaysia, was launched in 1981. This year's fair opened on May 26 and will last for 10 days.

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