A piece from The Elephant Series by Zhang Yifan

A piece from The Elephant Series by Zhang Yifan

The Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) will celebrate the 95th anniversary of its founding with a journey to Drexel University, where they display sixty paintings, prints, sculptures and videos from twenty-four of CAFA’s most talented young alumni artists at the Leonard Pearlstein Gallery (3401 Filbert St., Philadelphia). The exhibition, titled “The Start of a Long Journey,” opened Oct. 4, with a 5 p.m. reception at the gallery for CAFA dignitaries and is free and open to the Drexel community and the public.

The New York Times recently wrote of the CAFA exhibition, and its Beijing opening attracted collectors and gallery owners from around the world. Students selected to exhibit their work in “Long Journey” are the cream of China’s emerging artists. Selected works include: “Adding and Subtracting,” a sculpture of books and texts by Wu Wer; “The Landscape in Mist, Fibonacci Mountain,” a multi-dimensional work combining gouache paper, pencil drawings and video by Ye Qiuyang; and Zhang Yifan’s “Elephant” series of digital print-making, acrylic and laser-cutting works, among others.

CAFA describes the pieces in the exhibition as critical assessments of the previous era of Chinese art, which were shaped by the intellectual trends during the Cold War period as well as traditional Chinese wisdom.

CAFA Vice President Prof. Xu Bing explains that the exhibition also examines how the development of Chinese art and fine arts education has taken a contrary route to that of Western art.

“Since Western culture was instrumental to the evolution of human civilization throughout the last century, it also had tremendous impact on the world’s art history and education,” says Prof. Xu. “There are respective strengths and weaknesses to Eastern and Western art educations. In reviewing our past traces, we can examine our achievements and blind spots so as to discover future directions.”

Dr. Joseph Gregory, Chair of the Department of Art & Art History, says he is honored to present the CAFA graduates’ work at Drexel University. “This is the first time for these works to be shown in the United States. We hope this exhibition will become a very good platform for enhancing mutual understandings between the Chinese and the U.S. art world, and a starting point for the future cooperation and exchange between Central Academy of Fine Arts and Drexel University.”

In 2012, Gregory arranged an exchange of exhibitions between the CAFA Art Museum and Drexel’s Pearlstein Gallery. As part of this arrangement, nine faculty artists from the Westphal College went to Beijing in September to install their artwork at the CAFA Art Museum. The present exhibition is CAFA’s contribution to this cultural exchange. Future faculty and student exchanges are planned.

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