As the 9th of its kind, a significant event, The Start of a Long Journey: Outstanding Works by Graduates of 2018 from Key Art Academies in China, is going to be held at Central Academy of Fine Arts (hereinafter referred to as CAFA ) Museum this year. It is worth noticing that the exhibition is also a part of our special exhibition program for celebrating the 100th anniversary of the founding of CAFA.
The past century has seen the rapid development of art education in China. A hundred years ago (or more precisely, April 15, 1918), Beijing Art School, the predecessor of CAFA, was established in China, opening a new chapter in Chinese national art education. Since then, thanks to the consistent efforts made by several generations of art educators, China’s advanced art education has gone through an extraordinary path, with both twists and turns. Relevant disciplines and majors are increasingly mature. Once relied heavily on foreign teaching experience, we have been boast teaching methods that belong to ourselves. Since the beginning of the 21st century, we have been offered unprecedented opportunities in improving advanced art education. In September of this year, in the letter of China’s General Secretary Xi Jinping to eight old professors of CAFA, it is said that “Thank you for devoting your great love to the students, and showing your strong passion in bringing beauty to life.” in which indicates the country highly values art education and harbors high expectation for its further development.
“The Start of a Long Journey” (the national version) was initiated in 2010. After that, it has been regularly held once a year. After being organized by other top eight art schools in China, the exhibition once again returns to where it started–the Central Academy of Fine Arts. It is by no means an easy task to host such a grand project like this. However, over the past nine years, due to the successful organization of the project, the academic exchanges among the top nine art schools have been promoted and teaching discussions facilitated. Great achievements have also been made in carrying China’s advanced art education a huge step forward.
Though nine years have elapsed since the project was first set in motion, what remain unchanged is our original goals. By holding the series exhibitions, we hope to introduce more graduates’ superior works from China’s top nine art schoolsto the publich in order to reflect how far we have come in conducting advanced art education in the contemporary context and provide a platform of mutual learning and art community broading for different art college in our society. Over the past nine years, about 2,700 excellent graduates from China’s art schools have been given the chance to present their artworks at the series exhibitions. Many of them have gained a variety of opportunities therefrom. Some of them have gradually grown into an active force in the art community, both home and abroad, contributing their share to the next round of artistic revolution.
CAFA has endeavored to make thoughtful preparations for the show, one that marks the ending of the first round of the itinerant exhibitions and represents an important component of our arrangement to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the establishment of CAFA. During this very exhibition held at CAFA, brilliant works by 270 graduates from the top nine art schools will be presented and a special section will be set up to review the results we have achieved in running the project over the past eight years. I am convinced that the audience we get a brand-new perspective of appreciating arts when they are able to get exposure to these dynamic artworks and carefully-selected records.
Finally, as “The Start of a Long Journey: Outstanding Works by Graduates of 2018 from Key Art Academies in China” is going to be held at CAFA, I would like to thank all the participating schools and my counterparts for their support. I am truly grateful to the CAFA special team for their hard work during the preparation of this project. My thanks also go to those who have made this project possible.
Vice President and Professor of CAFA
For each towering giant of a tree, a tiny bud it used to be.
For a terrace nine-story high, it came from baskets of soil piled.
—Chapter Sixty-four, Tao Te Ching of Laozi
Eight years ago, united with the eight institutes of fine arts in China, Central Academy of Fine Arts launched a project of “Outstanding Works by Graduates from Key Art Academies in China” entitled “The Start of a Long Journey”. The exhibition is held every year at one of the eight institutes in succession. Participant institutes select outstanding works respectively from its graduation works of the undergraduates of the year that can represent the characteristic of the school teaching, embody the level of students’ creation practice and also be suitable for long-distance transport to be gathered at the host academy. Led by the committee of the project and the leading group of the host institute, organized by Office of Academic Affairs and art museums, and based on sensitive issues about contemporary art and art education, the exhibition brings a variety of discussion and exchange events planned by students.
In 2010, the first exhibition of “The Start of a Long Journey” initiated at Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts, and then it was held successively at Tianjin Academy of Fine Arts in 2011, Xi’an Academy of Fine Arts in 2012, China Academy of Fine Arts in 2013, Hubei Institute of Fine Arts in 2014, Sichuan Fine Arts Institute in 2015, Academy of Arts & Design, Tsinghua University in 2016, Lu Xun Academy of Fine Arts in 2017 and returned to the start point at Central Academy of Fine Arts (hereinafter referred to as CAFA) in 2018. Coinciding with CAFA’s centennial anniversary, the university museum – CAFA Art Museum will arrange the whole gallery to welcome the long-anticipated exhibition.
Looking back to the preface of the first exhibition, it stated:
This exhibition offers a platform for Chinese art education & research to make contrasts between institutes and between the institute and social art environment. On this “between-space” platform, it also provides fresh and accurate information in the field of contemporary art education, enabling the realization of the experience and mistakes within the art education.
The Start of a Long Journey Exhibition, as a system, has its features: just like recommending excellent artists, it seriously recommends aspiring young talents to the society through a realistic “promotion” mode since start painting, in which they go through rounds of selection and finally stand out from the process. Also, it lends a hand to these selected when they get chances to participate in the higher level of social art as they definitely represent the future. Their ideas and works may not mature for the present, yet there is something more precious than the formulated and symbolic “masterpieces”–possessing development space for the future with seed-like quality. The Start of a Long Journey Exhibition has attracted more than 2,500 excellent students to participate in the exhibition. Since the first round, we have attached the profile and contact information of each selected exhibitor in the exhibition catalogue, and thus the exhibition becomes a name card connecting school and society. As a consequence, many participants receive the invitations from major international biennials; get opportunities to contact with art museums and artistic projects; have their works acquainted and collected by art galleries and collectors; or win a variety of awards at home and abroad. Now, they are active all over the world – as people who can explore independently and devote themselves to the more spacious space for artistic creation.
Running on a 9-year cycle, “The Start of a Long Journey” has traveled around the country, reflecting a miniature of the highest level of Chinese advanced art education, and recording the flourishing ten years of art education in the new century. Therefore, this year’s exhibition set up a special literature section to review the previous eight rounds of projects nationwide while keeping an eye on the future. Nine pieces of works (one for each school) are carefully selected to represent the most outstanding works of the nine institutes and displayed in the special section on the first floor of the art museum.
There is an old saying, “ De Dao Duo Zhu” (得道多助), which means a just cause enjoys abundant support. Simply speaking, “De Dao”(得道)refers to “conform to God’s will” and is actually the intention of a consensus of need. If something goes with the intention, then it will naturally get support and help from all sides. Here, thanks to who have participated in planning and organizing the past eight exhibitions for the part of Central Academy of Fine Arts: Wang Xiaolin, vice president of CAFA, Tang Bin and Li Yaochen from CAFA Art Museum. On the occasion of “The Start of a Long Journey – The 9th Exhibition of Outstanding Works by Graduates of 2018 from Key Art Institutes of Higher Education in China” opening at CAFA Art Museum, special thanks to Fan Di’an, President of CAFA, Su Xinping, vice president responsible for teaching, Sun Tao, director of Office of Academic Affairs, and Zhang Zikang, director of CAFA Art Museum, for their full support.
Congratulations to all the students who have been selected for this exhibition as well. You are representatives of all the graduates. This moment, you already enter into a rapidly changed and undetermined world where different kinds of values collide intensely. With the overlap of the complex situation of the world and the turning point of individual life stage, graduates of this year are bound to face more challenges while it also tests our cognitive capacity and judgement. Thus, the thinking energy lurking in your body will be mobilized out, including that of the precipitated during the learning period yet having no chance to be used and stimulated. It sounds irrelevant to job-hunting or examination preparation, but is what we should think about and bear in mind, as you are the one who stands out from layers of screening in the realistic “promotion” system since you first learned painting and have the responsibility to become the best thinker and creator to face your destiny. I believe that the real source for producing artistic creation and wisdom comes from the energy accumulated in social sites that beyond campus and art system as well as from the enlightenment of social creativity.
Director of Academic Committee and Professor of CAFA
October 12, 2018
About the exhibition
Dates: 2018-11-11 – 2018-12-02
Opening: 2018-11-11 10:00
Venue: CAFA Art Museum
Courtesy of CAFA Art Museum.