The event is over.
Prominent Speaker Series: A Thousand-Year Debate on the Imagery of a Plantain Tree in Snow
Friday, 24 February 2017
7:00pm – 9:00pm
Level 16, The Pod
For access to the Pod, please proceed to lift lobby opposite the information counter.
Speaker: Tan Swie Hian
Admission is free.
The Tang poet-painter Wang Wei (699-761) is said to have made a painting depicting the noble man Yuan An of the Han Dynasty who, during a snow storm, refused to go out for his livelihood but to lie at home “as the snow is big when everyone is hungry, I should not go and trouble people.” In it, Wang also painted a plantain tree in the snow.
Yuan An Reclining in Snow was first mentioned by its collector Shen Kua (1031-1095) of the Song Dynasty in his Dream Pool Essays. Ever since, not only has the subject become one of the perennial for artists throughout the ages, but the imagery of the plantain tree in snow has sparked debate among famed artists, critics, scholars and writers for well over a thousand years.
Plantain trees grow only in hot climates and snow falls only in cold countries. How can a plantain tree survive in the snow? Wang’s detractors comment that he cannot “tell cold and hot apart”. But Wang’s appreciators believe that “Wang disregards the seasons when creating”.
The painting that no one has ever seen since Shen Kua is long lost. But the debate on a non-existent work continues, creating an unprecedented phenomenon that merits meditation. Now, join acclaimed artist Tan Swie Hian as he weighs in on why Wang did what he did.
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