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Reflections - Classic Chinese Art at the Olympia

Du Juemin talks to Lu Shaogang (photo by Annie Paul,

Though Jamaica and China are almost worlds apart. Yet time and again art provides a bridge between cultures. So, the Olympia Gallery, Papine, Kingston has a created a bridge through to Chinese culture through an Chinese classical art via ‘Reflection’ an exhibition of the works of renowned painter Professor Du Juemin of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing.

Professor Du is currently the artist in Residence at the Confucius Institute, University of the West Indies, Mona.

In his brief address, which was translated by Prof. Lu Shaogang, Chinese Director of the Confucius Institute, Du remarked that as he is unable to speak English, he would have to rely on his paintings to communicate his thoughts to the audience.

“I'm very pleased to have the opportunity to show my work here in the gallery. It is an opportunity for me to share my thoughts," Du said. He elaborated with reference to Franz Kafka’s statement that a “book is the axe to break the frozen sea within us”.

'Reflection' photo courtesy of Annie Paul speaker a the opening, Dr. Courtney Hogarth, Jamaican Director of the Institute described Du as standing on the shoulders of his ancestors. He spoke of Du's artistic influences, his philosophy and interest in penetrating "the human heart" through his painting.

This trait was strikingly evident in Du’s portraits, which reflected elements of the subject’s story in every stroke, several of which breath of pain and torment. Many of the pieces also reflect a delicate beauty, and though often make use of Chinese art iconography such as the ox, the flute and the lotus flower bear a keen individuality.

Hogarth, in the forward which accompanies the exhibition, further describes Du’s work as “filtered through a keen social consciousness paying strict attention to the downtrodden, rejected and wronged among men.”

The portraits are valued for between US$2,000 to US$2,000,000 which had more than a few visitors to the opening batting an eyelid. But whether one can afford to take home the works or merely enjoy them on the walls of the Olympia, the exhibition is worth a visit.

The art exhibition opened at the Olympia Gallery on Thursday, April 18, and continues through to May 4, 2013. The Confucius Institute is also staging a series of talks and workshops in relation to Du’s residency which will culminate with a screening and discussion of the film Black Blood, on April 25 at the Institute.