Museum of Fine Arts, Boston organizes first-ever museum exhibition of revolutionary Chinese ‘bapo’ paintings

This summer, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, opened China’s 8 Brokens: Puzzles of the Treasured Past, the first-ever museum exhibition dedicated to bapo (“eight brokens”) painting, a revolutionary artistic genre that emerged in China during the mid-19th century. Bapo refers to the damaged cultural ephemera hyper-realistically depicted in the works—worm-eaten calligraphies, partial book pages, burned paintings, remnants of rubbings and torn-open letters. The term “eight brokens” also alludes to the hidden messages of the images—often wishes for good fortune. Eight is a lucky number in Chinese culture, and broken, or less-than-complete, objects can also have favorable implications, since perfection could bring about misfortune. The art form was largely forgotten after 1949, but has recently been rediscovered by contemporary artists and collectors, prompting curators

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