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2015 Chinese New Year is arriving soon, on the occasion of the 116th birthday of Lao She, hosted by the National Art Museum of China, co-organized by the National Museum of Modern Chinese Literature, Lao She Memorial Museum in Beijing, China Guardian Auctions, “Artist sof the People: Exhibition of Paintings Collected by Lao She and Hu Jieqing” opened at the National Art Museum of China on February 2, 2015, so that people can walk into the National Art Museum of China and closely experience Lao She, Hu Jieqing and the artists of previous generations including Qi Baishi, Huang Binhong, Ren Bonian, Wu Changshuo, Lin Fengmian. The exhibition is made up of three parts, featuring more than 200 works, which is a complete academic combing through of the collections of Lao She and Hu Jieqing.

Lao She is a noted litterateur of China and the first writer to win the title of “Artists of People” of New China. Lao She and his wife Hu Jieqing started to get to know art in the1930s and Hu Jieqing has formally taken Qi Baishi and Yu Fei’an, two great artists, as her teachers and has become a representative of female artists of the 20th century. The couple both love art and have a rich art collection. Their painting collection is presented by friends, acquired indirectly from others or bought from the open market. After decades, their collection covers works of both ancient and present time and presents a splendid insight into recent artworks, especially the works of traditional Chinese painting of the 20th century which are the best examples of period. For the first time, this exhibition will comprehensively present calligraphy, painting, seal and inkstone collected by Lao She and Hu Jieqing. It will show appreciation and an insight into the collection of the couple as well as time features by the artists revealed during the creation covering different periods of time, interpreting evolution and the changes in Chinese art in the 20th century. In addition, with these precious art treasures, the exhibition also aims to recall this valuable period of the couple while involved in art creation and collection.

With the coming of the exhibition, the 4 children of Lao She and Hu Jieqing, Shu Ji, Shu Yi, Shu Yu and Shu Li freely donated many works of Chinese painting and calligraphy, collected by the couple and still in the family, to the National Art Museum of China, including the works of Chinese calligraphy and painting in the Ming and Qing Dynasties such as Zhao Zhiqian’s “Essay”, Weng Fanggang’s “Running Hand ‘Wu Jingyan’s Biography’”, He Shaoji’s “Small Regular Scripts”, and the excellent works of Chinese painting and calligraphy by numerous eminent modern art masters such as Ren Bonian, Wu Changshuo, Qi Baishi, Chen Shizeng, Fu Baoshi, Lin Fengmian, Chen Banding, Wang Yun, which represents the highest ability of Chinese modern painting circles. Qi Baishi said “his poem is the best, his seal is the second, his calligraphy is the third and his painting is the last”, in the donated work, the family has chosen representative works of the 4 aspects of Qi Baishi’s work in the collections, including Chinese painting of “The Boy Dressed in Red with a Buff in the Drizzle”, Chinese calligraphy of “All Flowers Bloom Together”, seal of “longevity”, as well as the donation of a number of works of prose, which not only reflects Qi Baishi’s comprehensive artistic attainments in poetry, Chinese calligraphy and painting but willingly carries forward the comprehensive artistic talent that belongs to outstanding artists.

Most of the works are poems and inscriptions which are personally inscribed by Lao She, Hu Jieqing, which not only make up the special series of “Collections of Lao She, Hu Jieqing” in the collections of National Art Museum of China, at the same time integrate into the sequence of the museum, to be one of the top collections of the National Art Museum of China, so the excellent artistic value is appreciated by the public, and part of the work will also fill in the blank of the national art collection, playing a prominent art role in the framework of the National Art Museum of China’s collections of the 20th century.

Entering the exhibition hall, first of all, the audience see the first part of the exhibition entitled “Literary Mind and Refined Taste: Lao She, Hu Jieqing’s works of Chinese Calligraphy and Painting”. It presents 34 works combined with their poems, Chinese calligraphy and paintings, together with historical literature and images to show the literary mind and refined taste of the couple. In the second part entitled “Long Live Teacher: Qi Baishi’s Chinese Painting and Calligraphy, Seals Collected by Lao She, Hu Jieqing”, it collectively showcases the precious friendship with the art master Qi Baishi, as well as a large number of excellent works of Qi Baishi. In the last part entitled “Accumulation of Quintessences and Collection of Treasures: Works of Chinese Calligraphy and Painting, Seals, Inkstones of All Ages as collected by Lao She, Hu Jieqing” explains the principle of the collection, taking interest as a starting point, adhering to the aesthetic principle that art is supreme in the collection of works.

In the collections of Lao She, Hu Jieqing, it also includes fans, seals, rubbings, inkstones, small antiques and other types of work. In addition to the works of Chinese painting and calligraphy, it also shows 55 seals of Chinese painting and calligraphy by numerous eminent artists since Ming and Qing Dynasties, including Zhao Zhiqian, Qi Baishi, Wu Changshuo, Chen Shizeng, Yu Fei’an, collected by Lao She, Hu Jieqing, as well as Li Yu’s Chinese Calligraphy and Painting Inkstone and a Portrait of Huang Yi and a 34 Years Old Inkstone, collected by Lao She. These seals and inkstones are another kind of art, together with the collected Chinese calligraphy and painting, they represent the years of artistic creation and collection of Lao She and Hu Jieqing, experiencing the refined artistic taste with literary thoughts.

Text and Photo by the National Art Museum of China, translated by Chen Peihua and edited by Sue/CAFA ART INFO

About the exhibition

Show Time: February 2 – March 15, 2015

Organizer: National Art Museum of China

Venues: Hall 13-17

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