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Speech by Ambassador Zhao Zhenyu at the Opening of the exhibition of traditional Chinese ink painting, Works of Courtney Hogarth, a Jamaican artist
2004-08-14

Your Honourable Maxine Henry Wilson

Minster of Education, Youth and Culture,

Lades and Gentlemen,

Dear Friends,

It is a pleasure for my wife and I to be here, and for me to make a few remarks at the opening of this special exhibition.

I think this is not something that we can see everyday – the opening of an exhibition of authentic traditional Chinese ink painting by a modern Jamaican artist.

Courtney Hogarth is his name, but for his Chinese teachers, classmates and friends, he is better known as Shanhaizi in Chinese, which means "the child of the mountain".

Courtney is talented, of course, but what impresses me most is that, like his Chinese name, he is an honest, simple and unsophisticated young man. However, it is just these characteristics that promise a master of the art of Chinese ink painting.

Chinese ink painting has a history of several thousand years. Its brush techniques, the use of ink and water and the pursuit of the traditional Chinese aesthetic feelings make it a unique art form that originated from China and has spread to other Asian countries like Japan, Korea, ect. "To paint the heart" is the ideal of Chinese artists of ink paintings. To master this form of art, one shall have a quiet frame of mind free from personal gain or loss. Only in this way, can he have a poetic observation of the nature surrounding him, and more importantly, find a way to express the feelings in his heart of hearts inspired by the nature.

I am not the best one to give the professional appraisal of his works. Let's hear what his Chinese teacher says of him: Shaihaizi is talented in learning languages, both the Chinese language, and the language of the skills of traditional Chinese painting. And according to the Chinese masters in this field, these two languages are the most difficult ones in the world.

When Courtley was a little boy, he came across a Chinese painting in his uncle's home, from that time on he has been running a high fever for Chinese culture. Then he found himself to be the first Jamaican student to study at the China Central Academy of Fine Arts. The Academy enjoys a very high academic prestige in China. Founded in 1918, it has fulfilled the dreams of many talented young people to learn the traditional Chinese painting.

Coming to China in 1999 on a Chinese Government scholarship, Courtley has spend 6 years to study and to understand the ancient nation of China in the Orient as well as its splendid art and culture. He travels widely in China. The great diversity of landscapes has enriched his artistic imagination, and his mastery of the Chinese language has given him a better understanding of the Chinese history and the aesthetic philosophy of the Chinese people.

From ancient times, the Chinese people have developed this philosophy centered on the idea of "harmony between man and nature." Based on this concept, many art works have the distinguishing features of unity between beauty of the nature and that of the mind. We all know that art speaks a language transcending the national boundaries, and good art works appeal to peoples with different cultural background. The 37 works of Courtney currently on display at this gallery are beautiful creations reflecting the essence of the Chinese ink painting. Therefore, I hope friends present here tonight take your time to taste the magnificence and splendor of Chinese traditional painting presented by the talented young Jamaican painter.

Ladies and gentlemen, you will enjoy the world created by Shanhaizi.

Thank you.

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