detail of china painting

Paintings at Kunming Cigarette Factory (Yunnan Province, China) Two square canvas panels, each 48" and one 48" circle of plexiglass, total size: 48" x 98"; 1996.

The painting "Bridge to Friendship" was created to celebrate the collaboration of German Machine Manufacturer and the Kunming Cigarette Factory in the Yunnan Province of China. Based around the unifying element of a blooming tobacco plant, the work brings together these seemingly diverse cultures through a collection of images which display the striking similarities the two cultures share.

The predominant image of the piece is the flowering tobacco plant which signifies the cooperative effort of the two companies to build a state-of-the-art tobacco manufacturing facility. Placed on the Plexiglass panel as the focal point of the work, the tobacco plant is also used on the canvas to reflect the excellent growing conditions in the Yunnan Province of China. The two areas also share a variety of beautiful blooming plants represented in the painting by roses from Verden and camellias from China.

Rich landscapes of the two countries form the backdrop for the unifying elements I chose to depict in the painting. "The Five Elders" from the majestic Stone Forest and mountain ranges represent China. Rolling fields of grain with hay bales and “colorful” black and white cows portray the countryside around Verden. Overlaying these landscapes are images of many of the things these two areas have in common.

The horse holds a place of importance in both countries and is depicted first through the image of the statue of a white horse called "Gengma" – which in the Dai language of the Yunnan Province means "a place found by following a white horse". Bronze foals, which can be found in downtown Verden, symbolize Germany's love for this majestic animal. Symbols of good luck, the peacock from Yunnan and the storks of Verden, reflect the importance of birds in both cultures. A wide variety of other rare and wonderful animals residing around Yunnan are illustrated to show the pride that people of both areas take in their rich natural environments.

Lakes and rivers serve both cultures, not only as scenic jewels, but also as sources of work and play. Fishing and boat racing on the Jinshajiang (Goldensand) River in Dayao, China are juxtaposed with a fishing boat on the Aller River which runs through the heart of Verden.

People, their activities and accomplishments in architecture and the arts bring the human element into the painting. Women attending the water sprinkling ceremony and bathers in the hot springs at Peacock Lake are contrasted with factory workers in both China and Verden. The arts are represented in many forms – from the classical art of the 18th century artist community of Worpswede just outside Verden and the Chinese painting of a mid-16th century musician, to music and dance represented by the Dai drummer and the Tobacco Box Dance, a traditional folk dance of the Yi people.

Rounding out the painting are images of the beautiful architectural achievements from both cultures. From China I chose to illustrate the Pagoda on Yiluochi Lake in Boshan, the Golden Pagodas at Jiele, the Temple built on Jizushan (Cock's Foot) Mountain during the Tang Dynasty and the Chaoyang Tower, an ancient city gate built in the 14th century near Jinshui. From Verden I chose to represent the oldest building in the city, a house and the tower from the townhall.

In researching the cultures and areas of Verden and Yunnan, I was constantly amazed by the similarities. By illustrating these similarities in my painting I hope I have created a work that will itself be a reminder of the "Bridge to Friendship" between Kunming and Verden.


©2024 Trena McNabb