Asia

The Dragon in the Belly: Patriarchs, Judges, and Kings

The Old Testament meets Beijing Opera in He Qi's art.

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He Qi, a prominent Chinese painter, believes Christian art should be bright. "I read the first chapter of Genesis, the creation, and God says, 'Let there be light.' So God's creation is a very, very colorful world." This idea goes against the centuries-old tradition in Chinese academic art — minimalist still lifes and landscapes usually done in black ink on white paper.

He Qi (pronounced huh-chee) says that there is a precedent for colorful Chinese art, even though it has been given very little wall-space in Western museums. "Chinese folk art, for Chinese minority people, their folk art is very, very colorful." In five years in the Chinese countryside and another four in rural Tibet, He Qi says he learned about folk painting and paper cutting.

He Qi incorporates Chinese and world art history into other Chinese symbolism. Moses is one of the Bible characters who, in He Qi's paintings, has the face of a dragon over his belly. "A dragon is a symbol for ...

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