Letter: Chinese paintings an experience

Louisiana State Archives did it again!

Eight large panels of Wan Ding’s Louisiana Swamp Scenes painting are on display at the Louisiana State Archives Gallery.

Wan Ding was a visiting artist from China 14 years ago. He taught the “Introduction to Chinese Painting and Brush Work” course at the LSU School of Art. At the time, this program was strongly supported by the late Paula Manship and her niece Nadine Russell, and later it was developed into a “Summer-in-China” program, a first for LSU art students spending their summer session in China to learn the techniques of Chinese brush work on paper.

It was an eye-opening experience for those who participated.

Wan Ding came back to LSU two more times after the initial visit in 1997. During his stay, he visited our beautiful swamp sites and was deeply inspired by the unique characteristics of Louisiana swamps. He took many photos and made numerous sketches. The painting was conceived in Baton Rouge.

Wan Ding painted this masterpiece in Xian in the early spring of 1999. It was exhibited at the State Archives gallery in 2000. Wan Ding personally put up the scrolls and Nadine Russel was by his side.

The “Louisiana Swamp Scenes” is not a landscape that imitated the reality of nature, but memories of the swamp in four seasons through the eyes of a master Chinese painter.

The scroll of eight panels is Wan Ding’s artistic interpretations and his masterful execution of the cypress in the shimmering bayou leaning against a fading sunset.

Toward the end of this scroll, Wan Ding put down an inscription “in the fading glory of a sunset, the cypress woods seemed like lonely aging beings standing next to each other. And those cypress knees spreading along the shores near and far; it inspired me as a new life coming out of hardship to search for the vigor and glory.”

At the very moment of ending the painting, he sighed and wrote, “My beloved far-away Louisiana, will your mysterious beauty be always truthful to me?”

Signed: 1999 spring, Wan Ding painted in Xian, China

We invite all Louisianians to visit the Archives to view this masterpiece which will be on display through the end of August.

John and Frances Hu

Chinese Culture Club

Baton Rouge