Modern-day inspiration from ancient road

BY:Wu Huixin

Edited BY:Liu Yifan




"Tang Dynasty Poems Road" by Lin Haizhong

Ever since Zhejiang Province government initiated the "Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907) Poems Road in Eastern Zhejiang" project in 2020, the China Academy of Art has taken students on trips to visit hamlets and relics along the route to explore cultural heritages.

Professors and students from the art academy created a series of artworks inspired by the route and hosted the first Tang Dynasty Poems Road Exhibition last year that caused a sensation citywide.

This year, the exhibition features more than 300 sets of new artwork inspired by off-the-beaten-track landscape through March 18.

The two projects – Tang Dynasty Poems Road in Eastern Zhejiang and Song Dynasty Cultural Legacy that kicked off in August 2021 – will together be built into paramount icons of Zhejiang Province.

"Why should we focus on this ancient road? First of all, Tang Dynasty poetry has nourished the hearts and minds of all Chinese people, and laid the universal foundation of poetic sentiments and spiritual lives in the country," said Gao Shiming, director of the art academy.

"The road leads us to think of the traces and feelings of the poets 1,000 years ago, and through the feelings we can harmonize with their hearts and voices. The exhibition will continue year by year."

The Tang Dynasty was the zenith of Chinese literature and produced the golden age of classic Chinese poetry. Even today, Chinese students learn poems from that era in school, some of which are still popular among Chinese speakers around the world.

An artwork "Where is the Green Mountain in Yuezhong" created by young artist Shen Xiaoming

The eastern part of Zhejiang Province allured a cavalcade of scholars during the epoch by virtue of its serene waterfalls, undulating mountains, tranquil villages and vast forests. Renowned poets, including Li Bai (AD 701-762), Du Fu (AD 712-770) and Bai Juyi (AD 772-846), visited this area and wrote renowned poems to eulogize the landscape.

A track linking scenic and cultural spots that once attracted poets to the area was gradually created in the 1980s after years of research by historians and writers.

The road starts at Xiling Wharf on the Qiantang River, tracing East Zhejiang Canal, Cao'e River, Tanxi Creek, Tianmu Mountain and ending at Tiantai Mountain. According to archives, around 500 poets wrote more than 1,500 poems inspired by the view of this route during the 300-year dynasty.

In 2021, the art academy mobilized more faculty and students to travel along the ancient route, discovering more natural beauty, humanities and lifestyles. Professors and students have focused on the unrestrained and magnificent power of imagination, creating a world by harmonizing with the traditional poetic aesthetic.

Visitors appreciate the work "Zhejiang Grand View," which features over 16,000 trees, 1,500 buildings, 390 mountains and 150 ships.

Young artist Shen Xiaoming created "Where is the Green Mountain in Yuezhong," depicting the panoramic landscape in eastern Zhejiang. It presents a majestic and magnificent image featuring roaring waves and layer upon layer of mountain peaks.

Shen's painting echoes ancient people's emotions. Tang Dynasty literati traveled throughout eastern Zhejiang, especially when they faced setbacks in their career pursuits, so the mountains and rivers along the route won their hearts.

"I want to lift the fog of modern people's arrogant view so the landscape can regain its heart-stirring charm and spirituality. Only in this way can the imagination and poetic feelings be freely presented," Shen said.

The work "Zhejiang Grand View" measures 0.8 meters in width and 100 meters in length. It features over 16,000 trees, 1,500 buildings, 390 mountains and 150 ships. Students and teachers went through more than 130 pencils, 140 erasers and countless amounts of paint to complete the painting on silk within three months.

"Tang Dynasty Poems Road in Eastern Zhejiang" Exhibition

Dates: Through March 18, closed on Mondays

Admission: Free

Venue: Zhejiang Exhibition Hall

Address: 197 Huancheng Road N.