The Mao Jianhua mountains on display in Florence

From the 7 to the 30 November 2018 in the suggestive Hall of Music of the Monumental Complex of San Firenze will be open the exhibition of the Chinese painter, philosopher and poet Mao Jianhua, Entitled "Mountains. Secret Harmony of the Earth ", curated by Cristina Acidini, promoted by the Franco Zeffirelli Foundation, under the patronage of the Municipality of Florence and the Regional Council of Tuscany, with the collaboration of the Acontemporaryart Cultural Association.

The exhibition project proposes a selection of twenty-five pictorial works performed with brush and ink on handmade rice paper, of various sizes, from the small format sheets to more imposing rolls, one of which reaches eleven meters wide. Through these majestic and at the same time intimist works, Mao Jianhua gives shape to the secret harmony of the earth, to the music of the sacred mountains, to the primordial sound of the universe which in the Chinese tradition resounds through the guqin, the Chinese musical instrument with a thousand-year history.

The route of the exhibition involves the visitor in an act of contemplation of nature, in search of inner harmony and the natural symphony that is captured through listening to the guqin's music that vibrates with the rhythm of the mountains and whose melodious and enveloping sound induces an introspective silence, favoring a sense of meditation and meditation. Thus, the energy released by the sacredness of the mountains is transformed into artistic and poetic creation.

It is not a question of the simple "realistic" representation of the true and of nature, but rather the artist, through stylized forms, intends to express the music of nature, its vibration, just like a guqin player; it is in this sense that in this exhibition music and painting dialogue in unison, indeed for the artist they are the same thing. If the music of guqin represents nature with sound, painting does it in the form of images, through lines and colors.

In the cultural tradition of imperial China, guqin music, chess, calligraphy and painting were considered the four basic practices that everyone had to cultivate to educate and refine himself. Guqin's music is an instrument of elevation and growth for the scholar, just as it is for the sovereign. Since ancient times the practice of guqin, in open and isolated places like the mountains, was an essential part of the artistic skills of a scholar, and even today it is considered the means to harmonize with the universe, transmitting its sound, the deep breath. Mao Jianhua proceeds consistently with this teaching.

In addition to spiritual and philosophical discipline, life experiences have also contributed to the formation of the original personality of the artist, so much so that Mao Jianhua, an entrepreneur for a long time engaged internationally, has given a turn to his life by undertaking a deep research of cultural and spiritual foundations of the Chinese tradition. Dedicated at an early age to the noble art of calligraphy, Mao Jianhua He started painting twelve years ago, starting with a thorough study of the "classics" of Shan Shui painting (mountain-water), centered on the landscape representation and which had its full bloom under the Northern Song dynasty (from 960 to 1127 ). Following the more traditional academic method, then starting from the copy of the masterpieces of the ancient masters (the painters of the Song, Yuan and Qing dynasties), Mao Jianhua he entrusted himself to the spiritual guidance of a Master, dedicating himself to Taoism and Zen Buddhism, meditation, isolation, music, chess, calligraphy and painting, rediscovering the sympathetic relationship with nature. It is in the Yellow Mountains, which has visited six times, that Mao Jianhua he found his own path to Shan Shui painting, dedicating every aspect with care, from the support (the paper), to the tools (the brushes), to the color range (the inks). Mostly using black ink on a white background, the technique of Mao Jianhua, strictly minimalist, proceeds by decisive brushstrokes, ranging from darker black to softer shades of gray sometimes interrupted by unexpected pastel hues, on handmade rice paper. The Xuan paper, known as Chinese rice paper, is actually obtained from the bark of the sandalwood tree and has long been used for writing and painting.

Stopping on the landscapes of Mao Jianhua, Cristina Acidini, curator of the exhibition, underlines that in them we find the long, tortuous layouts of riverbanks flowing loops among the tree-lined countryside, but above all the mountain peaks that rise steep and steep, often with pale and indistinct layers of fog ", and it is precisely the mountains that" acquire nuances of personality, which make them inspiring for deeply human emotional situations. It took an artist who was both a poet and a philosopher to restore the secret symphony of nature with the simple media of the ancient Chinese tradition, which is understood and disclosed only through the patient path of meditation, to identify with the deep breath of 'universe".

The mountains, which emerge through graphic signs at times powerful or more delicate, are authentic spiritual landscapes and the artist's aim is not to reproduce pleasing landscapes, but to create a space animated by the breath of life, the breath of the universe that is expressed in the melody created by the artist, this breath is brought back to the invisible thread that holds up the cosmos; the mountains of Mao Jianhua are the symbolic forms with which the universe becomes concrete.

"The true work of art, no matter if painting or sculpture" - explains the artist Mao Jianhua - "must be an expression of the freedom of life. Behind every work of art there is a message of inner harmony and a sense of peace, which is transmitted to the observer. Each painting depicts life on paper with its image, rhythm and color ".

"After the vernissage at the Vittoriano di Roma" - says Pippo Zeffirelli, vice president of the homonymous Foundation - "we are pleased to host the works of Mao Jianhua at the Franco Zeffirelli International Center for the Performing Arts. It is the discovery of an artist who has been able to bring modern features to a great traditional Chinese vision. With his artistic techniques, with his large brush strokes soaked in ink and the ability to infinite variations, Mao Jianhua has managed to win the admiration of many painters in the Western world ".

The elegant catalog created as part of the exhibition, entitled "Mountains. Secret Harmony of the Earth ", edited by Cristina Acidini, with texts by Cristina Acidini and Carla Casu, is published by Edizioni Plan.

Opening exhibition
The exhibition will be open from 7 to 30 November 2018 with the following times:
Tuesday to Sunday: from 10.00 to 18.00
(closing of ticket office hours 17.00)
Monday closed
Free admission with the ticket of the Zeffirelli Museum

Franco Zeffirelli Foundation International Center for Performing Arts in Florence offers to all, and in particular to specialists and fans of the performing arts, the unique possibility of knowing closely the heritage of one of the world's legends of art. The Museum, located on the first floor of the Monumental Complex of San Firenze, houses over 300 works related to the activities of Maestro Zeffirelli. The permanent exhibition is flanked by exhibitions dedicated to the most authoritative artistic personalities from around the world and to the theatrical and cinematographic subjects developed by the Maestro during his career.

The artist Mao Jianhua was born in 1955, in Changshu, a city in the province of Suzhou, near Shanghai. Always fascinated by Taoism and Buddhism, he made journeys of contemplation and study in the Yellow Mountains, experiences that have marked the artist's cultural journey. His paintings are often signed with the pseudonyms of "Jizushanren" (man of Jizu, the mountain where Mao goes regularly for meditation) or "Zhuoweng" (a man who follows his primordial nature). Among the exhibitions held in Italy, we remember the great personal exhibition held in September 2017 in Rome, at the Complesso del Vittoriano, entitled "The Timeless Dance. Beyond the Mountains ".

The ancient guquin musical instrument: traditional string instrument, a kind of zither (the literal meaning of the term guqin is "ancient string instrument"), is dense with cosmological and metaphysical meanings closely related to Taoism, very popular at the time of Confucius (551-479 BC). Guqin is not just a musical instrument with a thousand-year history, but is considered a real path to wisdom, like meditation. Perfected in China over 3000 years ago, he was an integral part of the orchestras of the imperial court, and later became widespread in solo roles. In the 2003 the guqin repertoire was proclaimed by UNESCO as an intangible heritage of humanity. Its parts symbolize the universe: the seven silk cords represent the water, the wand that unites the mountains, the thirteen buttons in mother-of-pearl or ivory that mark the time, the thirteen months of the Chinese calendar. On the back, the two holes symbolize the Dragon and the Phoenix, the upper part represents the sky and the lower part the earth. The wood it is made of must be old and is considered a sign of great value when cracks form on its surface that slowly draw a map, like the wrinkles on the face of an ancestor.

Enjoy Chianti

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