As a theme of traditional Chinese thoughts and culture, Confucianism has exerted a profound influence on Chinese thinking, culture, art, and other aspects of society. Confucius’ image has been one of the icons of traditional Chinese thinking and culture.
The fluctuating popularity of Confucius’ portraits and the evolution of their forms through history reflected the changing attitudes of China’s past dynasties toward Confucianism and people’s understandings of Confucius, and served as compasses of social thoughts to some extent.
The visualization of Confucius embodies ancient Chinese culture and art. Paintings should enlighten people and improve their ethics. The promotion, research, and awareness campaigns of Confucianism must involve Confucius’ images. Preferential treatment of Confucius’ descendants and Confucian temples reflect people’s worship of their ancestor.
Be it in the form of a portrait or a carving, Confucius was more than a teacher of the Spring and Autumn Period; he was a symbol for Confucianism and Chinese culture. The evolution of Confucius statues has shed light on how he and his status and influence in Confucianism was deconstructed and reconstructed, and presented the shifting dynamics between Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism. On top of that, it reflected the development and features of ancient portraits.
The study of Confucius’ images is not part of the study of Confucianism or the history of fine art. However, what mattered in this study throughout China’s history was their symbolic meaning to people’s thinking and culture, rather than how accurate the images depicted Confucius’ appearance. This exhibition aims to demonstrate Confucius’ influence by presenting his portraits and his images in various forms in China and overseas.