Saturday, January 15, 2011

Calendar Time - 日历的时候

When I switched to a new calendar, I always remembered the calendar time in China when I was in middle school.  It was a time China just started to open up to the outside world but in many aspects we were still rather isolated and in the art fields it was very bad indeed.  We had no opportunity to see any masterpieces created by western masters, even in reproductions for decades.  Artists' monographs were very rare if any.

In that environment, calendars opened the window for me to that part of the world.  Every year, from perhaps as early as October through December, my father, who worked in cultural field then, would bring home several dozens of huge rolls of calendars, featuring photographs of landscape, cityscape, traditional Chinese paintings, oil paintings or sculptures by old masters, folk arts, movie stars, and sometimes, propaganda.

I remembered vividly the first time I encountered Rembrandt through the calendar.  It was the first time I beheld wonders as his majestic Juno and melancholic Man with a Golden Helmet.  I was alternatively in awe and rapture.  I couldn't believe that paintings could be so beautiful and powerful.  I had been to many art exhibit before but was largely indifferent to those creations under the influence of socialist realism.

Finally I realized what was true art.

Over the years, the importance of calendar in my life has decreased drastically but I would never remember how profound impact they had when I was in the most malleable age.

Man with a Golden Helmet, Rembrandt
Man with a Golden Helmet, Rembrandt

Juno, Rembrandt
Juno, Rembrandt

當我換到一個新的日曆时,我總是想起在中國當我還在讀中學的日曆時期。那時中國剛剛開始對外開放,但在許多方面還比較孤立,在藝術領域尤其糟糕。在幾十年内, 我們沒有機會看到任何西方大師創造的傑作,甚至複製品。藝術家們的專集如果有的話也非常罕見。





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