Cave paintings are world first for city

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One of Yang’s cave paintings ©ArthurGold/ViewTwoGallery

An exhibition of ancient Chinese cave paintings came to Liverpool, making it the first city outside of China to showcase the replicas of the Maiji mountain grotto art.

The View Two Gallery in Mathew Street was asked to hold the event where history lovers could view detailed artwork replicating those of the Maiji mountain cave paintings.

Aritst  Xiaodong Yang was happy to provide Liverpool with the exhibition for a short time as the city has a rich Chinese culture and community. The paintings came to the city through Chinese architect and artist Miss Xia Lu, who went to the same school as Yang in Gansu Province and have remained friends since then.

Yang works as a keeper of the 1,600 year old paintings named the Grotto Art of the Tianshui Mountain, in the Gansu Province and ascends the mountain each day to copy the historical pictures before they fade or crumble away in what is an active earthquake zone.

The paintings were discovered in the mid-20th Century after Buddhist monks arrived from India and created them around 400AD, choosing the mountain as a temple and place of worship when they brought Buddhism to China.

Many of the Maiji paintings are shut off from the public but Yang still has permission to work in there, carrying out a lonely and dangerous job surrounded by poisonous snakes inhabiting the mountain. One of his paintings took up to a year and a half to copy and is seven metres long and two metres wide.

The 40-year-old artist has painstakingly replicated over 200 pictures in the last 17 years. The art graduate specialised in traditional Chinese painting until he became part of the Art Research Group at the Institute of Maiji Mountain Grotto.

Artist Xiaodong Yang with one of his artworks

Yang said: “We are trying hard to protect and preserve the original murals but many have faded. I work eight hours a day in the caves, carefully making copies of these wonderful works so future generations can enjoy them.”

“For me the passion for the grottos makes my work a labour of love. At last we have faithful copies of artworks dating back 16 centuries.”

The art has been shown in Beijing, Shanghai and Xi’an amongst other Chinese cities and the paintings will now return to China but some pictures of the paintings can be found at the View Two gallery website.

About Rachael Bentham, JMU Journalism