Sunday, December 11, 2011

Seasons: Chinese Flowers

Where: Freer Gallery of Art

When: through January 8, 2012

This is another in the Freer's year-long series of exhibits on the portrayal of the seasons in Chinese and Japanese visual art.  Most of the flowers depicted in Chinese art are grown in gardens, not in the wild.  The meanings ascribed to them influence the art, rather than scientific study.  I've often noticed the relationship in Western art between scientists and artists.  In these paintings, that's not what's on view.

Seemingly realistic paintings are actually puzzles where each element has a meaning.  Putting certain elements together makes a message for the recipient, perhaps good wishes on a birthday, or marriage.  For example, the painting Hollyhocks and Ducks is actually meant as a wish for a long marriage with many sons.

This is not the most colorful exhibit I've seen, although there are bits of red here and there, if you look for them.  One of my favorite pieces featured large red peonies, which, I found out, are originally from China.  I also discovered that a narcissus is what I've always called a daffodil.  I really never fail to learn something in each exhibit I attend.

Verdict: I love going to the Freer, if for nothing else than the tranquility.  This exhibit would be worth seeing, even if it were in one of the busier museums.

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