Before you visit Yangzhou Eight Eccentric Artists Memorial Museum, there is something you should know. Yangzhou Eight Eccentric Artists were some of the best calligraphy and painting artists with great spirit of creativity in Qing dynasty. They had a wide range of paintings with different themes and styles.
For calligraphy, they mixed paintings and calligraphy into one and gave a great manifestation of traditional Chinese painting. Among those artists, the most famous one was a painter called Zheng Banqiao. He was also a calligrapher who created a new calligraphy style influenced by his orchid drawings.
Yangzhou Eight Eccentric Artists Memorial Museum was built in the year of 1993, covering an area of 4,000 squares, with the aim of promoting and enhancing the spirit of the artistic achievement of those artists. Inside the museum, there displays huge high-relief sculptures of 15 painters of Qing dynasty. The reason why they were being called Eccentric Artists is their painting styles were too real, some of which might unveil some ugly truth of the society at that time. The ruler got angry and gave them that name.
The museum does a great job of recovering the living scenes of those artists. Wandering inside the old house with those artists statues, with green grass and quiet atmosphere around, it is like you are traveling back to that period. Apart from those artists figures, there are also other tourist scenes such as A Thousand Year Maidenhair Tree, Peaking Ice from Crane Pond, Moon Shadow from Lotus Pool and Peaceful Bamboo Spring.
The main exhibition hall was firstly built in 700 hundred years ago, called “Nan Mu Big Hall”, mainly exhibits the stories and big achievement of Eight Eccentric Artists. The structure of hall is made of Nanmu wood, the colored drawing is very rare around the Yangzhou area. In the room an artist once lived, the stuff did a great job reproduced how he created works of art in his late ages. Almost 60 pieces of calligraphy and painting are telling the tourists their bold and fresh ideas towards life.
The favorite painting objects of Eight Eccentric Artists are plum blossom, bamboo, stones and orchid. In traditional Chinese culture, plum blossoms symbols pride and dignity, stones symbols tough and strong, bamboo symbols purity and lofty and orchid as modesty.
There is an interesting painting series created an artist by Lihe from Tang dynasty. It is about ghosts and there are 8 paintings of different ghosts in total. Some is about ambiguous human figure in a mist, with vague limbs and face showing; some is about a fat ghost running with a boney ghost after him, like master and his servant; some is about this ghost with green hair and long feet, arms reaching out, like he is going to catching someone, which seems a little bit scary to me. As a matter of face, all these ghosts painting is just way of expressing discontent of the society.