Canadian paints the joys of classic Chinese culture

Strong curiosity about China and Chinese culture prompted Collins-Green to travel to the city of Nanchang in 2015, with the hope of learning what the real China was like. [Photo/Xinhua]

NANCHANG-Canadian national Brandon Collins-Green calls himself a Chinese culture "addict". He has lived in China for over six years, spending his time painting in the Chinese ink wash style and translating classical literature into English.

The 37-year-old is a doctoral candidate in classical Chinese literature at Jiangxi Normal University in Nanchang, capital of East China's Jiangxi province.

About 15 years ago, his encounter with a stage adaptation of The Dream of the Red Chamber in Singapore inspired him to begin studying Chinese.

Learning Chinese as a second language, Collins-Green found it was not easy to understand the novel. "Besides the story, I am also interested in the poems, dialogues and lantern riddles (deng mi) in the book," he told Xinhua in a Chinese-language interview, saying he has read the book many times.

"I used to know little about China, and what I knew was mostly from negative reports in Western media. Because of The Dream of the Red Chamber, I wanted to get a closer look at China."

His curiosity prompted Collins-Green to travel to Nanchang in 2015 in the hopes of learning what the real China was like.

During a visit to Bada Shanren Memorial Hall, where paintings by the famous Chinese artist (1624-1705) were on display, Collins-Green was intrigued by how a tiny brush could be used to depict the curves of hills, and shade and light on paper.

In his years spent translating The Dream of the Red Chamber into English, he has gradually found his own way of combining Chinese and foreign culture into his paintings, writing poems in English as the backdrop of his figures.

As of this year, he has completed over 2,500 works, including translations of The Dream of the Red Chamber landscape paintings and portraits. He rents a loft of about 9 square meters beside his university as a studio.

Since March, his paintings have been exhibited at art festivals in Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou in Zhejiang province and Xi'an in Shaanxi province bringing him a group of fans. Some have sent emails, asking the meaning of the poems in his paintings. "We can see from Collins-Green that traditional Chinese culture is becoming more attractive to people in other countries," said Li Shunchen, the Canadian's mentor at Jiangxi Normal University.

Collins-Green said: "I really recommend that more people come to China to see how fast it is changing and to enjoy the charm of its culture."

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