Flowers have long been associated with feminine beauty in Chinese culture. The modern artist Yang Gang and the Tang poet Wang Changling are both part of this tradition. They both use the motif of the lotus to explore the intimate relationship women have with nature.
In Girl With Red Lotuses, the lotuses look to be sprouting not just around the girl, but from her. It is almost as if she herself were a blossoming lotus, growing out of the muddy depths along with the flowers. Wang Changling suggests a similar relationship in his poetic descriptions of the beautiful woman, Suo Fei. The only way he can distinguish between her and her “sister flowers” is by the song she sings. The connection between Suo Fei and her lotuses goes beyond their outward appearance. They share a bond so deep that it is almost familial.
Yang Gang was born in 1946 and lived through the Cultural Revolution (1966–1976); Wang Changling lived during the Tang dynasty (618–907). These two men are separated by hundreds of years and several dynasties. Nevertheless, their shared fascination with bewitching beauties allows for a dialogue between poem and painting that transcends the bounds of time.
Poem selection and label by Molly Hurd ’18