Friday, 18 October 2013

A Splash of Culture

Earlier this month, I found myself amongst a few hundred guests anxiously awaiting the appearance of a renowned Chinese painter and professor Fan Zeng at the opening his only North American exhibition, the “World of Splash Ink.” The event was held downtown at the U of A's Enterprise Square Galleries where the Nankai University choir filled the lobby with their beautiful voices as Professor Fan Zeng, U of A President Indira Samarasekara, Mayor Stephen Mandel, Chinese Ambassador to Canada Zhang Junsai, and a number of other esteemed guests helped to introduce the exhibition.

Mayor Mandel, Ambassador Zhang, and President Samarasekera each emphasized the importance of cultural exchange to the vitality of the city and the important role that culture has in facilitating relationships between China and Canada economically, socially, and in education.

Professor Fan took the stage and immediately captivated the audience with his humour, humility, and enthusiasm. A representative from the University translated his speech from Chinese to English, creating an amusing double-wave of laughs as the Chinese audience received the joke first and the English-speaking audience understood it a few moments later. The artist reminisced about some of his favourite paintings as he cracked jokes about his age and showed a genuine appreciation for having the chance to exhibit in Edmonton. The artist believes that his art is able to represent China, express his own perspective, and continue the lineage of artists and intellectuals he comes from. Fan Zeng was an inspiring speaker and his personality was infectious, making me even more excited to enter the main exhibition.

After the speeches, the audience funnelled into the exhibition. Each person shuffled into the gallery excitedly, even bypassing free food to get to see the exhibition faster. That's right, the guests were so excited that they bypassed free food. Upon making my way through the crowds, I was treated to some truly magnificent creations. The exhibition features 35 new works by Fan Zeng, varying from serene landscapes to striking figures to elegant calligraphy. Each work featured a beautiful mix of bold lines and soft brushes that leaped off the white scrolls. As I weaved through the crowd and took in each piece, I was struck by the beauty of the work and impressed with the diverse subjects that the artist chose to paint.

My visit to "The World of Splash Ink" exhibition was my first time visiting the Enterprise Square Galleries and it was an incredibly memorable one. Visiting the downtown exhibition gently reminded me that the U of A's influence stretches far beyond the confines of the North campus and has inspired me to travel away from the campus paths that I frequent a little more often to see what else the U of A has to offer. In the heat of midterm season it is tempting to either hole up in a library or dash home after classes are over, but taking time to appreciate amazing cultural opportunities presented in the city by our University can be an enriching and rewarding way to de-stress and to learn something new in the process.

The World of Splash Ink was a truly memorable and breathtaking experience. I highly recommend visiting the Enterprise Square Galleries before the exhibition ends on October 26th.


About the Author

Hello there! I'm Trenton and I'm super excited to be a YouAlberta Student Communicator. Though I spend a staggering amount of my time thinking about a syllabus for an imaginary Batman 101 class, my major is actually Political Science. I love to read, eat, and play around in Photoshop (sometimes all at once). If you're ever looking for someone to debate about a variety of nerdy topics, I'm your man.

It is my hope to tell a wide array of stories about the sides of campus life and student life that may not be immediately apparent. In doing this, I want to showcase the diversity, passion, and community at the U of A that constantly inspires me. My time at the U of A has been truly trans-formative and, as I enter my final year here, I can't wait to listen to and tell stories about the University and its students.


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