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‘Year of the Horse’ makes exhibit of Chinese ink paintings perfect for Kentucky Horse Park

(Photo from UK Confucius Institute)

(Photo from UK Confucius Institute)

As the Horse Capital of the World, Lexington hardly needs a reason to celebrate equine culture, but the coincidence of this year being the Year of the Horse on the Chinese lunar calendar and the University of Kentucky playing host to the renowned Confucius Institute seemed too good a reason to pass up. The International Museum of the Horse at the Kentucky Horse Park will host a unique exhibit of Chinese ink horse paintings beginning Saturday, Oct. 18.
The exhibit represents a partnership among the park, the institute and UK’s School of Art and Visual Studies. The works are by Chinese artist Xu Quingping and will be on view through Feb. 17 of next year. A free public lecture on horse painting will be given by the artist at 2 p.m. on Saturday in the South Theater of the Visitor Center at the Kentucky Horse Park. All attendees are welcome to tour the exhibition and the Kentucky Horse Park for free following the lecture that day.
Xu Qingping’s works are highly influenced by traditional Chinese ink painting within a Western academic milieu as made famous by his father, Xu Beihong. By adding color and additional elements to his work, Xu Qingping has differentiated himself from his father while still remaining grounded by paternal influence.
Xu Qingping was born in Beijing in 1946 and holds a doctoral degree in fine arts from the University of Paris at Sorbonne. He was professor of art history and a member of the academic committee of the Central Academy of Fine Arts. Currently, he is deputy curator of the Xu Beihong Museum, vice chairman of the Chinese Painters and Calligraphers Association, and dean of the Xu Beihong Arts Research Academy at Renmin University of China. He is also an adviser to doctoral students, a council member of the Chinese Artists Association and recipient of a State Council Special Fellowship.
The elder artist, Xu Beihong, was a legendary Chinese painter whose ink horse paintings are imbued with Western techniques of anatomy mixed with the traditional dynamic free ink play of Chinese painting and calligraphy. Known for his galloping horses which is the symbol of unbridled spirit both in Kentucky and in Chinese culture, Xu Beihong successfully developed a synthesis of Chinese and Western traditions in his work after attending the Paris Art Academy in the 1920s.
Horse painting was an important subject in Chinese art. Images of horses appeared in paintings in the Spring and Autumn Periods from 770–476 B.C. Artists from the succeeding dynasties also built quite an impressive repertoire of horse paintings culminating in the Tang Dynasty, from 618-906 A.D., and Song Dynasty, from 960-1127 A.D.
The exhibition will end on Feb. 17, 2015, because that is the last day of the Chinese lunar year and, thus, the last day of the Year of the Horse. School field trips and other activities will be scheduled during the run of the exhibition. In addition, an art contest will be organized by the Confucius Institute for both K-12 students and UK College of Fine Arts students, with awards given out at the close of the exhibition.
For additional information about the exhibition and associated programs, visit here or click here.
The Kentucky Horse Park is open daily 9 a.m.-5 p.m. through Nov. 2. Admission is $16 for adults and $8 for children 7-12, and includes the next day free. Beginning Nov. 3, the park will switch to its winter schedule and will be open Wednesdays through Sundays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Winter admission will be $10 for adults and $5 for children 7-12, and includes the next day free. Children 6 and under are always admitted free of charge when accompanied by a paying adult. Admission includes the International Museum of the Horse, a Smithsonian Affiliate, and the “showplace for Saddlebreds,” which is The American Saddlebred Museum and Gift Shop.
From Ky. Horse Park

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