Art of the soul

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Shao Fan's solo exhibition, You, features such artworks as Rabbit Mountain, Old Ape in the Ravine  and furniture designs at Suzhou Museum. [Photo by Satarupa Bhattacharjya /China Daily]

But Shao says he has never been lonely despite keeping a certain distance from the country's bustling art community.

His solo exhibition, You, at Suzhou Museum in Jiangsu province, through Sunday shows Shao's distinctive approach to oil painting, ink-brush painting, installations and furniture design. Visitors can understand the richness and vibrancy of his art. And the venue matches the scholarly temperament Shao imbues his works with.

I.M. Pei, a well-known Chinese-American architect, drew inspiration from the old city's classical gardens while designing the museum completed in Suzhou in 2006.

Shao's productions dwell on philosophical thought and a simple but qualitative way of living, reflecting his admiration of ancient Chinese philosophers. He also collects antiquities with which he decorates his home, transforming it into a modern version of an ancient scholar's living space.

Feng Boyi, a Beijing-based curator, says Shao has long sourced different forms, elements and motifs of traditional Chinese art, such as shuimo (ink-and-wash) paintings, the style of Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) furniture and the classical gardens of Jiangnan in southern China.

"He experiments to connect such cultural heritage of centuries to the contemporary context to show his audience the links between the past and the present," Feng says.

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