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Zhuangzi said: “The great beauty of heaven and earth is silence”, heaven and earth together with everything is the realm of great beauty, so Hong Ling borrows it as the theme of the exhibition which reflects his piety and the sincere simple attitude to nature, and it also condenses the pursuit and exploration of Chinese aesthetics. On December 2, 2015, “Great Beauty of Heaven and Earth – Retrospective of Hong Ling’s Art” opened at the National Art Museum of China, and it is the first time for Hong Ling to hold a large-scale solo exhibition in the 40 years of his art career, presenting the works starting from the Hutong series in the early 1980s, Portrait series, Human Body series, Native People series, Abstract series, to gradually enter the oil painting of landscape series, in addition to the presentation of a series of ink painting works. The exhibition is also the first show of Hong Ling’s world touring exhibition in China, UK, and Ireland.

Hong Ling is a teacher of the 3rd Studio in the Department of Oil Painting, CAFA, whose oil painting art offered a special exploration of Chinese aesthetics. Honorary President of China Artists Association Jin Shangyi, President of CAFA Fan Di’an, Chairman of China Oil Painting Society Zhan Jianjun, Dean of Chinese Academy of Oil Painting affiliated to the China National Academy of Arts, Deputy Director of the National Art Museum of China Ma Shulin, collector Cao Xingcheng from Taiwan, Professors Zhong Han, Su Gaoli, Yuan Yunsheng, Ma Lu and Liu Xiaodong from CAFA attended the opening ceremony of the exhibition.

For the art of Hong Ling, President of CAFA Fan Di’an praised the successful exploration in the oil painting language and artistic conception in the opening speech, the artist was not only talented, he also persistently and unswervingly adhered to exploration, maintaining the inner willpower in the current surge of artistic ideological trends. Fan said that, since the 20th Century, generations of oil painters in China had been in pursuit of how to make the Western art language of oil painting become a medium to interpret reality, life and artistic ideals, how to explore the new possibility in the combination of the Eastern and Western culture. Under the new cultural conditions, Hong Ling successfully found his way in the combination of the expressive way of oil painting and Oriental aesthetic artistic conceptual expression. The painting is challenged by information in the era of image now, but Hong Ling’s art also has a lot of cultural values, offering a new direction to further reflect the methodology of Chinese contemporary painting. Chairman of China Oil Painting Society Zhan Jianjun said that “Hong Ling has firmly adhered to nationalistic painting since the 1980s, and combines Western oil painting with the features of Chinese landscape language, he combines the colors of Western oil painting with the connotation and brush strokes of Chinese painting, following the traditional Chinese aesthetics to explore the artistic conception, and the works also reveal the realm of the great beauty of heaven and earth.”

Seen from the development of the history of Chinese art in the 20th Century, it is inevitable that the historical problem of several previous generations continuously explores how to combine the foreign painting style of oil painting with the Chinese traditional artistic logic. Hong Ling also actively explores how oil painting converts to a part of Chinese spiritual culture, although he is an oil painter, he realizes the “beauty of artistic conception”, which is the supreme evaluation standard for the traditional Chinese painting, between the abstract and representation in his paintings. In addition, in the creation and life of Hong Ling, “nature” and “landscape” occupy a great cultural proportion, and he thinks that the concept of “nature” has a fundamental significance for his art, and through his abstract refinement, it is blended into the aesthetic character and philosophical spirit of traditional Chinese landscapes. In his opinion, it is not the “landscape” in the western sense, but using the oil painting material to create Chinese “landscape”. In the philosophy of life, he also pays attention to “the heart is consistent with the thing”, acting like an ancient hermit living within modern urban culture, he lives in Mount Huang which is the hinterland of the Chinese landscape culture, and continues the traditional context following Shi Tao, Mei Qing, Jian Jiang, Huang Binhong.

The exhibition continues to December 9. And then it will be displayed at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London (July 2016), and the Chester Beatty Museum in Ireland (October, 2016).

Text and photo by Zhang Wenzhi/CAFA ART INFO

Translated by Chen Peihua and edited by Sue/CAFA ART INFO

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