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Leu Art Gallery showcases traditional Chinese art style with new exhibit

Liu Shuling became a dedicated painter in elementary school, and he’s still creating art at age 78.

“In China last names are numerous, so my last name is Liu and my first name contains two characters. One character is Shu, and Shu means telling a story and Ling means an artist with taste,” said Shuling through his translator.

“Even my first name means art.”

Shuling practices an ancient style of painting called Gongbi, which dates back over 2,000 years. Gongbi is a realist painting style that originated in China. The paintings emphasize accuracy and precision without independent expression.​

Shuling’s artwork opened for display at the Leu Art Gallery last Thursday, February 7th, and he gave a presentation to tell his audience about his upbringing and share his passion with students.

“Expressive paintings capture the big idea and are not very accurate,” Shuling said through his translator. “Gongbi paintings emphasize the accuracy and the details of a brush stroke. If you were going to draw a bird, you have to present every detail of the object.”

Except for one painting, all of Shuling’s art on display vividly captures birds from around the world set against subtle backdrops. He contrasts the large profile of a bald eagle with intricate scenes of butterflies or hummingbirds

Even as a child, Shuling was most interested in birds. He attributes this to taking care of a baby magpie bird when he was a small child.

Now, he says, his house is like a jungle full of birds.

“In China, we also have a proverb. Hundreds of flowers blossom, and my paintings are just one flower,” said Shuling after sharing some of his newest creations. Shuling’s 12 paintings will be on display until March 4 in the Leu Art Gallery.

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Written by Henry Gregson. 

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