Friendship is viewed as one of the most meaningful and eternal relationships in Chinese culture. The figures in Zhou Yingqin’s painting present an endless cycle of this unbreakable bond. Zhou was a late 19th- and early 20th-century painter who lived during a time of great political upheaval. The transitional nature of the landscape is indicative of this change. The river illustrates the continuous flow of life and weaves an emotional tale of separation and reunion between the figures. Zhou asserts the idea that true friendships will always withstand life’s challenges.
Wei Yingwu was a Tang-dynasty (618–907) poet who emphasized the value of lasting interpersonal relationships. His poem describes the reunion of friends who have endured many years of separation. Like Zhou, Wei constructs an eternal cycle of friendship through his portrayal of separation and reunion. The drifting clouds and flowing rivers symbolize the emotional inseparability of true friendship. This combination of poem and painting enables the viewer to become an active participant in the relationship. We are invited into a world where we experience for ourselves an ideal friendship that transcends time and space.
Poem selection and label by Sidney Lu ’17