Old is new again at Beijing art museum

Updated: Oct 29, 2020 By Yang Xiaoyu Print
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Sanyu's  Virgin Mary and the Infant Jesus. [Photo provided to]

Virgin Mary and the Infant Jesus, a small-sized oil painting on show, is widely believed as French-Chinese vanguard painter Sanyu's only work dealing with the theme of religion.

Despite the title, the work which portrays two figurines with indefinite looks also strikes many critics as the Child-giving Guanyin, one of the most popular Buddhist deities in China, as the goddess is believed to grant worshippers with healthy, intelligent babies.

Sanyu also used liu bai (leaving space), a technique held in high esteem by ancient Chinese painters, in this piece. He painted his subjects in a minimalistic style with a restrained palette, leaving vast swathes of the canvas blank. The use of liu bai enhances the sense of space in the painting, critics say.

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