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On October 31, 2017, the Chinese Ambassador to the United States Cui Tiankai was interviewed by the media for Trump’s upcoming visit to China, at the banqueting hall for the Ambassador of the Chinese Embassy in the United States. Behind Ambassador Cui Tiankai was the “Spiritual Landscape · Dreaming Jiangnan”, which is a 21-meter large-scale Chinese painting created by the Chinese artist Liu Yun in 2008, with customization by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

On November 2, “Spiritual Landscape” Liu Yun Chinese Painting Exhibition opened at the National Art Museum of China. This exhibition is sponsored by the China Artists Association, National Art Museum of China and Hunan Federation of Literary and Art Circles, organized by the Hunan Artists Association and Hunan Academy of Painting, fully planned by Yidian Art Institution in Hunan, to display 60 Chinese paintings of blue-green landscape, created by Liu Yun in recent years, as well as part of the literature, video data, three-dimensional representations of decades of artistic exploration by Liu Yun in artistic creation.

At the opening ceremony, Hu Peiyuan, the counselor of the State Council and Liu Dawei, Chairman of China Artists Association; Xu Li, Party Secretary of the China Artists Association, Vice Chairman and Secretary General; Ouyang Bin, Vice Chairman of Hunan Provincial Political Consultative Conference, Chairman of Hunan Federation of Literary and Art Circles; Fan Di’an, President of the Central Academy of Fine Arts and Vice Chairman of the China Artists Association; Zhang Shijun, Secretary of the Party Committee of the National Art Museum of China; Li Xiang, Director of the Department of Fine Arts at the PLA Institute of Art and Vice Chairman of the China Artists Association; He Jiaying, Vice Chairman of the China Artists Association and Dean of the Institute of Gongbi Affiliated to the China National Academy of Arts; the well-known painters Long Rui, Li Baolin, Tian Liming, Lu Yushun, Yuan Wu and other guests attended the opening ceremony.

Liu Yun, as one of the leading figures in Hunan’s art circles, he is now a member of the council of China Artists Association, a member of the council of the Chinese Painting Society, Vice Chairman of Hunan Federation of Literary and Art Circles, President of Hunan Academy of Painting, and Executive Vice Chairman of Hunan Artists Association, and his works have participated in many major works of art at home and abroad and won prizes. Some of the works have been collected by domestic and foreign institutions and individuals. Among them, “Spiritual Landscape · Dreaming Jiangnan”, which is a 21-meter large-scale Chinese painting created by Chinese artist Liu Yun in 2008, with customization by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs which is permanently displayed in the banqueting hall for the Ambassador of the new office building at the Chinese Embassy in the United States. In 2012, invited by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China, he created a Chinese painting entitled “Hunan Spring Sunshine Figure”, which is permanently displayed at the Embassy of China in Iceland; in 2016, Liu Yun’s Chinese painting entitled “Speechless Sunset and Silent Mountain” was collected by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and displayed in the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

At the opening ceremony, Fan Di’an, President of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, delivered a speech at the start and he said that Liu Yun’s creation was established on native soil, and he has made valuable contributions to the development of Chinese painting both in content and form. In Fan’s view, Liu Yun’s creative practice has grasped the theme of “promoting tradition” and “innovation of the times”, while he also firmly grasped the creative methodology of landscape that “Learn outward from nature” and “get inward from heart”, “what Liu Yun seeks is how to express the cultural spirit of the times through the language of Chinese painting and how to transform the objective appearance of the natural landscape to the spiritual connotation of landscape art.”

The exhibition presents the new works such as “Clear Breeze Sweeping through Saihan Dam” and “Beautiful Landscape of Jiuyi Mountain · Under the Shunyuan Peak”, which perfectly embodies Liu Yun’s spiritual essence in his creation. Liu Yun’s creative objects are mostly hometown scenes, including mountains, lakes, trees, wind, moon… and the background is the sluggish water vapor of the hometown of Jiangnan. For Liu Yun, it is the cradle of life, and also the artistic motif. Liu Yun said that as an artist, hilly landscape paintings in his hometown of Hunan, the mists & clouds of the Jiangnan, wind, water, trees and moon and also the fairy land of peach blossoms, once he picked up a brush, he was submerged into the scene, to be physically and mentally quiet, to have a spiritual roaming in the spiritual landscape, which was a spiritual path bridging the real homeland and spiritual homeland.

It is worth mentioning that, Liu Yun engaged early in the creation of oil painting, which was widely recognized. This exhibition also presents the literature of Liu Yun’s masterpieces of early oil paintings – such as “Moon’s Spirit”, “A Half of the Moon”, “Red Water Chestnut Ship”, and so on, as well as a short film, which comprehensively introduces Liu Yun’s achievements in the creation of oil painting in the early years.

These oil painting materials echo the Chinese paintings which are on display in the exhibition hall, which reveals the process and achievements of Liu Yun’s perfect transition from oil painting to Chinese painting. Xue Yongnian, a famous art historian and art critic believes that although Liu Yun has gone from oil painting to Chinese landscape painting in only ten years, he has kept two major characteristics in his continuous improvement: “One is the cultural connotation and spiritual reverie of moving people by feeling” – it shows that it consciously carries the mission of landscape painting given by the great changes of the times and the spiritual drift in the creation, starting from drawing the moving nostalgia to sublimate his own feelings, comprehending the harmony between man and nature, constantly building the spiritual homeland of memories, introspecting in order to establish ambitious goals. The second characteristic is that Liu Yun continues to insist in “expanding artistic vocabulary in cross-border and homing in” in the creation, and Xue Yongnian points out that “he has both crossed the West and China, oil painting and traditional Chinese painting, and also crossed the ink & color and the ink & wash, North school and South school. For each leap, he placed the expansion of artistic expression on the homing in of the Jiangnan dream in the landscape painting in China.

Liu Yun has always upheld the aesthetics and faith in art and has renewed and sublimated the creation of Chinese painting in recent years. Entering the hall, the view can see the context of creation of Liu Yun’s successful transformation from oil painting to Chinese painting, and he uses a high-degree of cultural awareness, deep academic thinking and excellent artistic endowment to comprehensively create a brand new artistic realm, as well as the “spiritual landscape” in the depth of Liu Yun’s mind, with his sense of missing and affection. The exhibition remains on view till November 12.

Text and photo by Lin Jiabin, translated by Chen Peihua and edited by Sue/CAFA ART INFO

Photos courtesy of the organizer

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