Five distinguished pastel artists from the United States—Alan Flattmann, Gwenneth Barth-White, Jason Chang, Jimmy Wright and Richard McKinley—are just coming back from a momentous trip to China where they participated in the very first China (Suzhou) Biennial International Pastel Art Exhibition. This inaugural event took place in the city of Suzhou, located in the Jiangsu Province in Eastern China, not far from Shanghai. The city is famous for its canals and stone bridges, pagodas, and scrupulously designed gardens—and now for its support and celebration of pastel art!
The international exhibition features the pastel work of the aforementioned U.S. artists plus Liz Haywood-Sullivan (who could not attend the event due to a previous engagement in Italy); Spanish artists Aurelio Rodríguez López, José del Riego and Vicente Romero; Isabelle V. Lim, of Hong Kong, who was instrumental in the organizing of the event; and 10 Chinese artists: Du Guohao, Gu Gang, Hang Mingshi. Li Tieshu, Li Xiaolin, Pang Maokun, Shi Tao, Wang Xiangzhen, Wu Lieyong, and Zhou Gang. The all-star showcase of pastel opened October 18 and will run through November 25, at the Hang Mingshi Pastel Art Museum in Suzhou.
Activities for the participating artists (see photos below) took place from October 18 to the 25th and included several plein air outings (one with Chinese opera characters); tours of local gardens and other sites; a boat trip on the lake; and opportunity for both formal and informal dialogue, and creative exchange between Chinese and western artists.
The celebrated Chinese artist and teacher Hang Mingshi, a master of pastel, shared this statement in the exhibition catalog: “We’ve invited 20 pastel artists to exhibit together. Their creations bring us a feast for the eyes and set our sights beyond our eastern shore in developing the art of pastel. I ardently believe the international pastel exhibition will be staged every other year and the international art communities will build a strong supporting network with the Chinese artists. Together, we will strive to explore all possibilities and become united though our art.”
The following photos, courtesy of Isabelle V. Lim, certainly demonstrate what the vision of “unity in art” might look like:
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