An exhibition of paintings, pottery, guqin zithers and flower arrangements, all based on Zen themes, is on display at Shanghai Xinqiao Art Museum in Songjiang District.

Meticulously arranged Japanese Nanga paintings and Buddhist scriptures; simple, rustic pottery; minimalist flower arrangements; and five handmade guqin, show how, not so long ago, ordinary people worked Zen into their everyday lives in an artistic way.

Charming, basic and fluent, Nanga painting was greatly influenced by Chinese literati paintings during the 18th century. They feature natural scenes and subjects like landscapes, flowers and even simple human activities.

“It’s interesting to study the Japanese painting schools, and the huge impact of Chinese culture and philosophy,” said collector Qiao Wei, who donated the Nanga paintings to the museum. “At the same time, we can see how the two cultures exchanged, evolved and distinguished themselves from one another.”

From ancient times to the modern day, the guqin, one of the most ancient Chinese musical instruments, has been a favorite of the intelligentsia for its nuances of tone. Guqin maker Ding Liang has brought five of his latest zithers. Each has taken several months and more than 100 procedures to complete.

“How you play the zither reflects your inner world,” Ding said. “Working on a zither is a spiritual journey for me, a journey of patience, care and a peaceful mind.”

Visitors are welcome to enjoy a cup of green tea on the second floor and bathe in serenity through the soothing melodies of the guqin.

Venue: Shanghai Xinqiao Art Museum

Address: No. 193, Lane 255 Sizhuan Road S., Songjiang District

Date: Till June 10, 9am-5:30pm, Monday to Saturday (Book in advance if you go on Sunday.)

Admission: Free

Tan Weiyun / SHINE

Come, see the true flowers of this pained world.