The paintings of Sun Ying (孙莹) tend to feature animals (quite often a rabbit) and (as is the case with the two paintings featured here) a girl—the same girl. Each painting is meant to tell its own story—a part of the girl’s life distilled into a single moment and frozen in time—but taken together, the paintings form a larger narrative. Sun Ying states, “The story of the girl is ongoing, she tells her own story in her own world, all the happiness and the growing pain remain in the painting passing through the time tunnel” (Painter Sun Ying’s Exhibition Opens in Beijing).
– Click on each image to see a higher resolution
version (e.g., 2048 x 1365) on Flickr –
In this portrait, the girl stands in front of rose bush, her hair dusted with a sprinkling of freshly fallen snow.
While writing this post, I started wondering about winter and roses. Exactly how hardy are these plants? The trick to protecting rose bushes in cold climates is to encourage the plants to follow their natural habit of hardening off (a process in which their cell walls thicken) and then going dormant before winter (Protecting Roses from Winter Damage). One danger is if rose bushes react to unseasonable fluctuations in temperature by breaking this natural pattern of growth and dormancy. If a rose bush starts growing too soon because of a later winter warm spell, it can be severely damaged or killed when the cold weather returns or if it gets hit by a late-spring freeze.
Has the rose bush in the painting blossomed too soon and or has it forgotten to go dormant? In either case, it is a vulnerable, doomed beauty caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The soft pink hues of the rose match the girl’s lips and the blush on her cheeks. Is the rose a metaphor for the girl—someone coming of age in the wrong place and the wrong time in a short-lived burst of beauty? Or has the girl forgotten to go dormant—to thicken her skin and put away her natural, child-like innocence—in order to face the cold winter that lies ahead.
Of course, maybe I am being too logical and pessimistic (as is my nature). I asked another person how she viewed the winter blossom and she suggested that it represented hope.
In another picture, we only see the girl’s torso, her right arm and a single rose (perhaps the same one as in the first painting) in her hand.
Sun Ying is a young artist from Qinhuangdao in Hebei Province, China
More on Sun Ying
Artist’s page at the Line Gallery website (for more information about the themes in her paintings, check out the sections on her exhibitions) Profile: Sun Ying
~by Stephen Richards (longzijun)
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