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Exhibition shows painter's refined, mysterious world

Updated: Sep 23, 2021 By Lin Qi chinadaily.com.cn Print
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A painter copies after Balthus' Cat in the Mirror III on show. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Despite living in an era marked by various vanguard artistic movements, Polish-French artist Balthasar Klossowski de Rola, better known as Balthus (1908-2001), persisted with classical painting techniques. He once said, "I was born in this century, but I belong much more to the 19th century."

Balthus cultivated a highly personal modern style by rendering his subjects, mostly notable young women and cats, in an air of refinement and mystery.

Becoming Balthus' Muse, an exhibition held at Dreamland Art Center in Beijing's 798 Art Zone, reveals to audiences the intimate world of this unusual figure in 20th-century art by centering around his work Cat in the Mirror III, made between 1989 and 1994. The oil painting is on show with several of his drawings and sketches.

Balthus' work influenced a number of home-grown artists following a touring exhibition in China in 1995. The current exhibition, running through Nov 30, also displays works by some of these artists such as He Duoling, Zhang Xiaogang and Zeng Fanzhi.

The exhibition also recreates distinctive settings of Balthus' studio and home, decorated with bourgeois pieces of furniture to create a dreamlike quality and simulate the inner states of his subjects.

The design not only makes the exhibition a destination for art appreciation but also a way to connect people with the surroundings Balthus worked in.

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