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An Inspiring Look at Creativity Through a Young Artist’s Eyes

TIMES TELEVISION CRITIC

Raymond Hu is a young artist who paints animals on rice paper. It’s the eyes in his paintings that draw you to them--expressive, haunting, vividly soulful eyes that seem almost to glow and to provide a window to the spirit.

Hu’s work is celebrated, and he’s had many one-man shows, which is all the more noteworthy because he has Down’s syndrome.

His life and works are on exhibit in “Raymond’s Portrait,” tonight’s rewarding PBS documentary wedged between 2 1/2 hours of Luciano Pavarotti and Charlie Rose.

Hu is now a 22-year-old student at California’s Diablo Valley College near his home in Alamo. Donald Young’s slender film captures Hu at 19, the product of mainstream schooling--culminating with his high school graduation ceremony--and only a few years of art instruction. His gift is obvious, his accomplishment startling given common perceptions about those with Down’s syndrome. “He does have different eyes from the rest of us,” his father says.

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We also hear from his mother and younger brother, who speak candidly about the highs and lows of his life, and from Hu himself, who, with humor and insight, explains his kinship with animals. His speech is sometimes difficult to understand, but his art speaks eloquently.

* “Raymond’s Portrait” airs tonight at 10:30 on KCET.


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