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Thursday, April 14, 2016, 12:22

Beijing hutongs revived in watercolors

By Agencies

Bicycles randomly set beside the courtyard gate, creepers winding up the patchy walls, clothes hung on the vines, red lanterns in the air after a winter snowfall...sights like these that are typical to Beijing hutongs but are likely to disappear in the near future have gained new life in the artworks of Lu Yan. Lu, a contract photographer with Xinhua news agency, has preserved the original flavor of the city’s hutongs in his watercolor paintings.

Lu, who graduated from Tsinghua University 30 years ago, studied under Lou Shibai, a disciple of the painting master Qi Baishi. His works have been displayed in numerous exhibitions at home and abroad, and have clinched many awards. Later Lu took another interest in photography. As a native Beijinger who grew up in those winding alleys, he has a fascination with hutongs, since all his childhood memories and dreams are deeply planted there. So he spent nearly 30 years documenting hutongs through his camera lenses.

The hutong is the most emblematic architectural style of the capital's traditional residences, as it embodies a rich historical, as well as a cultural legacy that is so essential in defining Beijing's identity. However, with the expansion of the city, many of the hutongs Lu photographed have either disappeared or become completely different after continuous makeovers.

As he has grown older, it's become physically difficult for him to carry around heavy cameras, so Lu decided to paint these hutongs on canvas. To fully depict the subtle sense of history of the hutongs, which have weathered hundreds of years of existence, he chose to use watercolors. This technique can better convey both the rich colors and the profound cultural connotation of his subject.

Beijing hutongs revived in watercolors
(Photos / IC)
Beijing hutongs revived in watercolors

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