A Watchful Eye by Yin-Rei Hicks.

THE PLATE Alert to every surrounding danger, the vigilant lioness stands guard while her litter of cubs frolics safely beneath her watchful eye. Even for these offspring of the "King of Beasts" there are deadly hazards in the wilderness: leopards, hyenas, hunting dogs, even other lions --and of course, man, the most dangerous of all preda¬tors. For the moment, however, both mother and young are secure, partially concealed in the tall grasses and shrubs of the African savanna, their natural habitat.

All the pristine beauty and savagery of untamed Africa are embodied in these splendid creatures whose attributes-- real and mythical-- have fascinated mankind for thousands of years. Yin-Rei captures it all: the sense of power and energy in the rippling muscles of both the lion¬ess and her young; the characteristic face of the adult lion, suggesting both courage and nobility; the scorching heat of the midday sun, evinced in the quality of light which pervades the picture. Wildlife art has never been more faithful to the look and life of its subject matter, and never more powerfully evocative. .

Brilliant draftsmanship and scientific exac¬titude are the keystones of Yin-Rei's artistic genius. Not a single superfluous line or stroke of the brush mars the strict economy of "A Watchful Eye." Yet the picture is replete with the meticu¬lously observed and unerringly rendered details which create a compelling sense of authenticity. here is wildlife painting at its finest. .

Trained in the Orient and with an Oriental sen¬sibility, Yin-Rei's art reflects some 4,000 years of Chinese aesthetic and philosophical tradition. The ancient masters of Chinese painting affirmed that their art was an extension of their lives, and that the act of painting itself is an act of reverence for all of nature and life. "A Watchful Eye," therefore --and indeed the entire Signs of Love series -- suggests several simultaneous meanings: the love of animal mothers for their young; the love of the painter for her subject matter; and finally, it suggests the love and reverence in the act of artistic creation itself. .

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