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Huai Su in the Banana Grove

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Gu Yün was the leader of a group of painters working in Shanghai during the last quarter of the 19th century who called themselves "The Nine Friends" in imitation of Dong Qichang's (1555\u20131636) literati circle. the group included Wu Dacheng, Lu Hui, Ren Yü, Jin Lan and Ni Dian, all represented in this exhibition.In Gu's portrayal of Huai Su (737\u2013?), the Tang monk is seated in the banana grove he called "Green Sky Temple," practicing calligraphy on nature's affordable paper\u2014the banana leaf. Flywhisk in hand and drowsy from effort and perhaps drink, he wipes moisture from his brow, giving the impression that he is preparing for a nap. This amusing and very human portrayal is typical of the 19th century populist artist's approach to venerable and traditional subjects.

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