Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Very Colorful Easter Art

Holidays and art are two of my favorite things, and when they come together with style and flair, it makes me happy. For several years, I've been fascinated with the art of He Qi; as a professor, artist and revolutionary, Dr. He Qi was one of the first Chinese to study Religious art after the Cultural Revolution, and went on to study medieval art in Germany. He now produces and exhibits his art on an international stage, in the hopes of achieving a very specific objective:
[He Qi] has been committed to the artistic creation of modern Chinese Christian Art since 1983. He hopes to help change the "foreign image" of Christianity in China by using artistic language, and at the same time, to supplement Chinese Art the way Buddhist art did in ancient times. In his works, He Qi has blended together Chinese folk customs and traditional Chinese painting techniques with the western art of the Middle and Modern Ages, and has created an artistic style of color-on-paper painting.  -from He Qi's "About Artist' page 
I first discovered He Qi's art when teaching confirmation at my church; his work is used extensively in the Faith Inkubators curriculum that we used for middle schools students. I found that the color, energy, and strong sense of story in his artwork grabbed the kids' attention and captured their imagination, helping to bring our teaching to life.

Like my students, these paintings draw me in. I love the bold colors, the sense of action, and the very specific tale that is told in each piece. It's always interesting to see how another person imagines a story that you have heard yourself many times; it's especially interesting to look at these familiar stories from a Chinese point of view.

To give you a taste of He Qi's work, I combed through his galleries and gathered up the images that relate to the Easter story, as I have retold here and here.

Baptism of Jesus
The Baptism of Jesus

Here are two versions of Jesus' baptism in the Jordan River. The top painting is the more recent one, and it's apparent how He Qi's style is evolving with the use of bolder colors and more fragmented sections of color. An angel has been added to the group but otherwise the composition is pretty much the same. I love the dove and the strip of blue at the bottom, indicating water.

Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem

Love the waving palm fronds and arms in motion; interesting how the three guys in the back left are posed in a uniform and controlled way, while the people in the foreground, especially those on the right, are turned up down and every which way. I enjoy seeing that carpet rolling out right in front of the donkey's feet,and I'm super curious about what appear to be those Chinese characters in the upper right corner.

Praying at Gethsemane

He Qi's sense of geometry is on display in this piece; the bodies of the men fit together like Tetris blocks; the triangle of light blue indicates God's listening presence, and the sweet pattern of trees in the background reminds us of the garden setting. 

Women Arriving at the Tomb

The bent limbs, leaning torsos and bowed heads of these women fill this scene with energy and motion. While the blue and green geometric shapes hold center stage, my eye is drawn around the piece by the little details in pink and white.


One of He Qi's earlier styles, this piece features indistinct forms who have no faces, and the brush strokes are bold and loose. Love the ethereal quality of the floating angels' robes, while the seated woman is shown to be an earthy creature, as her sitting position connects her to the bottom of the painting.

He Is Not Here

Another great example of how geometry can bring energy to an otherwise static scene. The rounded lines of the hillsides, the opening of the tomb, the line of the angel's robe all curve away from the pure white lily, which symbolizes the miracle of eternal life that just occurred. The lily is balanced by the white grave cloth in the woman's hand, fluttering in breeze, which symbolizes earthly death. Interesting pair of opposites.

The Empty Tomb
For me, this painting is all about the colors. I love the balance of two complimentary colors, purple and yellow, set against an almost neutral dark blue and highlighted with the reds and pinks of the women's faces. The biggest burst of red is the rectangular opening of the tomb and our eyes are drawn inside to the yellow and white lines that reveal its emptiness.

In honor of these inspiring paintings, I did a little watercolor Easter painting of my own. This little butterfly, inspired by The Very Hungry Caterpillar, wishes you a very happy and color-filled Easter.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please comment...I'd love to hear from you!