Black and White, a painting by Mu Xun.[Photo provided to China Daily]
New Zealand-based Chinese painter Mu Xun recently held an exhibition at the National Museum of Modern Chinese Literature, showcasing dozens of his oil paintings from the past decade.
The exhibition includes three sections, the first of which covers his memories of water towns near Shanghai, where he worked for 17 years as a Peking Opera stage designer.
The lines of the houses and bridges in the paintings are distorted in a way that show the tender nostalgia that Mu feels for the places.
In the second part, Mu reinterprets the signature facial makeup used in Peking Opera, while the third section is about Mu’s impressions of New Zealand, highlighted with bright colors and cheerful subjects.
The vice-president of the New Zealand Chinese Fine Arts Association and New Zealand Chinese Writers Association, Mu was born in North China’s Hebei and raised in Beijing.
He studied stage design at the Central Academy of Drama in Beijing and later worked for the Shanghai Peking Opera Theater.
Mu moved to New Zealand in the 1980s with his family, carrying with him more than 40 paintings. However, it didn’t take long for him to find that it was extremely difficult for a Chinese painter to be accepted by the local art market.
“Art is like DNA for a people. You can share technology, but you can’t always share art,” Mu, 70, says.
Mu did all kinds of odd jobs to support his family in Auckland, including working as an interior decorator and a street painter.
After retiring, he shifted his focus to painting.
Mu says he doesn’t bring social events into his painting, but his focus is more on his inner thoughts and emotions.
“As I aged, I started to think more of the olden days. I want to leave something behind,” he says.