Alumnus brings Chinese art and technique home to BGSU


Galloping, by Ma Xinle

BOWLING GREEN, O.—Internationally acclaimed artist Xinle Ma has curated an exhibition of established Chinese painters whose work weaves a graceful thread between modern Western and traditional Chinese influences. The exhibit, “Fluent Expression: Modern and Traditional Chinese Painting,” will be on display from Sept. 4-30 in the Willard Wankelman Gallery in the Fine Arts Center at Bowling Green State University.

The exhibition will feature about 40 paintings by three artists in addition to Ma, a 1995 graduate of BGSU’s Master of Fine Arts program. They are Yu Zhixue, renowned in China for his snow scenes and landscapes; Ren Zhong, a successful mid-career artist, and Mou Cheng, one of the most revered artists in China, also known for his snow landscapes.

Ma will visit BGSU during the exhibition, and audiences will have the opportunity to take part in a weekend workshop on painting in the traditional Chinese style Sept. 19 and 20, and to meet the artists following a talk by Ma on Sept. 21.

Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, 6-9 p.m. Thursdays, and 1-4 p.m. Sundays. Admission is free.

“This exhibition will be an opportunity to appreciate the traditional techniques and subjects and understand how they integrate with and play off of contemporary Western sensibilities and cultural experiences,” said BGSU Galleries Director Jacqueline Nathan.

To American eyes, these painters’ traditional subjects and their often graphic flatness may appear very stylized and “Chinese,” Nathan said. However, the Chinese eye may see a dramatic break from the fluid calligraphic lines and sheer color that depicts nature, balance and harmony in traditional painting. Through the use of such innovations as denser color, varied media and more “materiality,” these artists create entryways between an ancient and sublime artistic culture and the influences of the West, while respecting time-honored ideas.

“I was fortunate to learn traditional Chinese painting from some of the great masters,” Ma said.  “The one who influenced me most was Master Huang Zhou, one of the most famous painters in modern China. I was inspired by his paintings of animals, which are vivid, lifelike and portrayed with great spirit. I always enjoyed painting horses and tigers.”

There is a purpose in Ma’s paintings beyond their artistic value. “I wish to use my paintings to increase awareness of our natural environment while creating a more harmonious environment in which we all live. I hope my paintings will invite people to walk into them with calmness, inspiration, passion and a curiosity to explore.”

Ma, born in 1963, shows internationally in China and the U.S. and is represented by Elizabeth Wang Gallery in New York.

Guóhuà, workshops for painting in the traditional Chinese style, will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sept. 19 and 20. There is a charge for participation and space is limited. Contact the School of Art at 419-372-2786 to register.

Xinle Ma will present a free ARTalk on “Art Crossing Cultures” at 5 p.m. Sept. 21 in the Thomas B. and Kathleen M. Donnell Theatre in The Wolfe Center for the Arts. The artist reception will follow in the Wankelman Gallery in the Fine Arts Center, with entertainment by BGSU flute faculty member Hong-Da Chin.

Updated: 12/02/2017 12:48AM