Mark Hiew (more chengdu)|
Chengdu has been a center for Chinese fine arts for over a millennium. The Chengdu Academy of Painting, located not far from Kuanxiangzi Alley (China Lane) in the city’s northwest, offers a concentrated collection of oil paintings of the finest skill, located in a beautifully restored traditional hutong dating back to the Qing dynasty. It’s an ideal place to swing by for those seeking a soothing, stimulating, high-culture outing.
The building itself is worth a visit in its own right. Visitors enter the gallery, which is free of charge, by passing through a peaceful garden featuring a turtle-graced pond, before stepping through a lovely wooden moon gate and into the central courtyard, with early characters bordering the far wall and the gallery itself split between two facing sides of the hutong. If you’re lucky, the gallery manager might invite you back to glimpse more of the building, including a striking Qing-era painter’s table and other pieces of furniture remaining from that period.
Of the paintings on display, a number are portraits, their subjects ranging from Guanyin and historical figures to bent-over-backwards grinning self-portraits. The collection is decidedly progressive in nature; even the traditional landscapes and animal paintings possess a certain contemporary flair. Look out for the charming sketchiness of a work concerning old locals playing mahjong and an arresting vision of two cranes soaring above the outstretched arms of a Tang dynasty woman. For those interested in buying, prices are listed with each painting, but beware, prices start around 10,000RMB and run up to 75,000RMB.