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Art: Roaring Tiger, Leaping Carp at the Cincinnati Art Museum

By Tamera Lenz Muente · October 7th, 2009 · CityBeat Recommends
When is a tiger not just a tiger? An eagle more than an eagle? When they’re painted as messages about social and political conditions, philosophies about leadership and cultural values. This was the case during the Chinese Imperial Court between the 11th and 19th centuries, when its painters used animals as symbols.

Many of the meanings of these images had been lost, but Hou-Mei Sung, curator of Asian art at the Cincinnati Art Museum (CAM), has rediscovered them. She’s brought together over 10 years of research and more than 100 paintings in Roaring Tigers, Leaping Carp: Decoding the Symbolic Language of Chinese Animal Painting, which opens Friday and continues through Jan.


This show is a rare — and I mean rare — opportunity.

“One of the things that make this show so special is that we’ve borrowed from three Asian museums and 14 major U.S. museums,” Sung says as she shows me around the in-progress installation. “It’s so hard to bring works like this together. All the paintings from China, except one, have never even been shown in their own museums.”

To reemphasize her point, no one has ever organized an exhibition of Chinese animal paintings. Not anywhere, even in China.

Learn more about the exhibit and get museum details here.



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