Ode to Nature by Winifred Lee
Dates: April 29–June 22, 2017
Opening Reception: May 5, 2017 | 2:00–4:00 p.m. | Artist in Attendance
Ode to Nature is inspired by the beauty of springtime in the classical Chinese garden. In celebration of Asian Heritage Month and Vancouver Bird Week, the exhibition presents a perfect collection of bird-and-flower paintings by renowned artist Winifred Lee. Lee’s works have been shown locally and nationally, as well as in the United States, England, Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan. The exhibition displays her mastery of the brush and her refined use of colours, as she captures fleeting moments of beauty in nature.
Winifred Lee (于琓君) was born in Beijing, China, in 1934. She studied painting with distinguished artists and professors in Taiwan. Awarded First Place in Traditional Painting (guohua) at The 19th Taiwan Provincial Fine Arts Exhibition in 1964, Lee showed extraordinary talent and skill early in her career. She continued to paint after moving to Canada in 1977 and received training in Western painting. In 1979, she initiated the founding of the Richmond Chinese Calligraphy and Painting Club. Lee also participated in the founding of the Chinese Canadian Artists Federation in 1993 and became a member of the Federation of Canadian Artists in 1984.
Birds and flowers, landscapes, and figures are the three main subjects of traditional Chinese painting. Originally associated with Buddhist art, flowers became a separate branch of painting in the Five Dynasties Period (907–60). Prominent painters throughout Chinese imperial history—both within the court and in literati traditions—had depicted birds and flowers as one of their favourite subjects. Bird-and-flower paintings continued to be prominent and are an integral part of the genre known as Traditional or National Painting (guohua) from the 20th century onwards.
Lee’s bird-and-flower watercolours showcase the delicacy and elegance of traditional Chinese painting often inspired by the natural world. Her skillful brushstrokes and intricate use of colour give life to her paintings, which narrate an aesthetic experience beyond the realm of words. Scholars in the past captured nature in minimal spaces such as the classical Chinese garden, but Lee’s paintings also allow viewers to enjoy and encounter nature through her eyes. Incorporating Chinese techniques with Western aesthetics, she captures the poetics of nature within a painting in the same way as the classical Chinese garden frames mountain and water scenery in a window.