Starting next year, artists from home and abroad may apply for a chance to paint in newly-constructed caves near the world renowned Mogao Grottoes in Dunhuang, northwestern Gansu Province.
At present, more than 20 caves have been opened and five were set aside for artists to paint and carve, Chang Jiahong, painter and head of the New Dunhuang Modern Grottoes Arts Center said at the China Sciences and Humanities Forum on Wednesday.
Artists, drawing inspiration from the themes of "world peace" and "global environment," may log on to the website (www.newdunhuang.com) to file their applications. A special evaluation group organized by the arts center will review the applications, and those selected will be invited to live and work in the grotto, Chang told Xinhua.
He said the works could either be a single painting or carving for a whole cave. "All the living expenses will be covered by the arts center," he added.
The new grottoes, which are built underground, are designed for arts creation. They will be free to visitors in the future, Chang said.
Chang Jiahuang is the son of Chang Shuhong, the renowned specialist of Dunhuang studies, also known as "the protector of the Dunhuang caves." With donations and volunteers' help, Chang Jiahuang poured money earned by selling his paintings into the project to fulfill his father's last wish of building new caves in Dunhuang.
He and the volunteers have been working in four caves since 1999 to duplicate Buddhist painting masterpieces that were looted by foreign countries between 1906 and 1919. "The project's goal is to boost modern arts through the traditional art form of grottoes," he said.
The art objects of Dunhuang came to light in 1900 when a Taoist named Wang Yuanlu stumbled into one of the 492 caves at Mogao Grottoes that contained more than 50,000 sutras, records, and paintings covering a period from the 4th to the 11th centuries.
The Mogao Grottoes were included by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on the World Heritage List in 1987.