The resemblance of Non-Resemblence

Nicholas Quirke was contorting his mind to absorb the Taoist, Confucian philosophies that permeated the work of cultural hero Qi Bashi on 7 November 2020 and which, focused on the Chinese aesthetic proposition of the ‘Resemblance of Non-resemblance. When he made the arrangement with Peng to go to an art gallery the next day on Friday 6 November, he hadn’t anticipated having such an intellectually rigorous time. His quiet day of preparations for his weekend lessons was laid back and there was no hint of the next day’s challenges. His evening journey to the school which, was now in a new location a block away from the old school, was through the autumnal streets now beginning to be littered with leaves. He had a new class of 3 boys Yuda and twins Alexander and Anthony. He had a lot of fun and the lack of WiFi ended up as a lesson with more theatrical fare. there were two lessons that evening and the second was with Sissi and Tim and Jason another set of twins. He got back at 9pm to an empty flat as Peng was out celebrating a work colleagues leaving. For once there was no television and once he had showered he took to bed and sleep. Saturday bought another bright day with it and they made an early start to get to the gallery with a mix of walking, subway and cycling and it still took over an hour to get to the gallery. There were 2 exhibitions at the Art Museum of Beijing Fine Art Acadamy. The first was a small retrospective honouring the work of Xuxi whose paintings were familiar and eerily beautiful. A grey impressionistic world with vivid spalshes of primary colour. The city scapes and landscapes had an added resonance as they were now places he had been to and experienced. The second exhibition was paintings of China’s 20th Century’s most influential and creative artist and international peace prize winner, poet and painter Qi Bashi. The exhibition focussed on the meaning and process implicit in the work and there were some charming animations of the forms with some ‘similarity to life’ that were subject matters for Qi, specifically, shrimps and crabs. The introductions to the sections were dense with the philosophy and artistry that made the work so singular but couched in extremely verbose and complex language and it was only when studying the paintings that the words began to make some sort of sense. After the exhibition they went for tea at the terrifyingly modern Bulgari Hotel. The tea rooms were an extension of a Traditional Chinese Medicine Store and though his Pu’er and orange peel tea tasted bitter he felt it must be doing some good. They enjoyed a late lunch on rice noodles at restaurant they had visited before and the celery, tomato and kimchi sauce was as good as he had remembered it. At home they played monopoly which Nicholas was delighted to win again before watching a disappointing new Marvel film. ‘The New Mutants’ which, made going to bed and inviting sleep in an exciting prospect.

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