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December 02, 1990|KAREN E. KLEIN

"From Mainland China to Los Angeles," the artistic charting of Wei Tian's journey from East to West, is on display at the Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena.

In China, where he was born, Tian won national awards for his traditional landscape scroll paintings and his calligraphy. But when Tian first saw Western art in the United States in 1986, he abandoned the traditional to dabble in the abstract and to create immense oil paintings that reflect the flavor of his homeland.

The metamorphosis in Tian's work that accompanied his immigration to the United States sparked the interest of Armory Center gallery director Jay Belloli. "We thought that many of the people in Southern California would be interested to see what happens to an artist's work when he moves from one culture to another," Belloli said.

The Armory Center show, which encompasses Tian's early Chinese artwork as well as his contemporary abstracts, is Tian's first exhibition in the mainland United States. The 35-year-old artist had an exhibit in Hawaii, where he got a master's degree from the University of Hawaii in 1986. Tian now lives in Los Angeles, Belloli said.

Tian's work has struck a chord with the large numbers of Asian immigrants who have visited the Armory Center since the show opened in mid-November, Belloli said. "It's an excellent example of someone doing art in one tradition and now doing art in another tradition," he said.

Tian's training in China is reflected in his current work, which includes large horizontal oil paintings that are meant to be "read" like a Chinese scroll painting. The largest measures six feet tall and 28 feet long, Belloli said. His other works include abstract brush paintings on rice paper.

The nonprofit Armory Center for the Arts opened in November, 1989, and offers a gallery, workshops for children and adults, art classes that are held at locations throughout the Pasadena area and a school program that includes art lectures and tours for children.

The exhibit featuring Tian's work will continue through Jan. 27, Tuesdays through Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. The Armory Center is located at 145 N. Raymond Ave.

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