Li Yang’s works discuss the world’s changes, reflecting the topics of the times as well as expressing humanistic care. In Li Yang’s art career for many years, he has created works by inheriting the artistic creation concept of figure paintings from predecessors and combining this with his personal experience of different cultures and conventions in China. By understanding various characteristics of diversified national cultures and integrating them with the spirit of the times, Li Yang has extracted the essence and the artistic value of life. Professor Zhang Peng commented that Li Yang’s art creation explores the spiritual world of Chinese people and digs into new expression methods from daily life, thus to stimulate the vitality of art.
At 3 pm on August 14th 2019, as a significant component of NAMOC Invitation Academic Exhibition Series, “Eyes of Concern: Li Yang’s Chinese Painting Exhibition” was launched at the No. 5 exhibition hall in the National Art Museum of China. The exhibition focuses on Li Yang’s recent “realistic” figure paintings, reflecting the artist’s research and art creation in terms of the national theme, people’s livelihood and the urban societal topics.
In the art development process in China since the 20th century, in order to produce artworks with humanistic care and express personal reflections on the changing world, artists have always been encouraged to be concerned with current events, social development and people’s daily life. Since entering the Central Academy of Fine Arts in the 1980s, Li Yang’s study and practice have been consistent with this artistic process. In 2009, Li Yang published an article entitled “Creating Works Based on ‘Painting from Life’ (“写生作品化”) in the journal The Fine Arts (Meishu,《美术》), which centralized his art practice and teaching experience over many years. In this article, Li Yang inherited the traditional teaching method in regards Chinese paintings and reflected on the dialectical relationship between painting from life and artistic creation. All the research is showcased in this exhibition through his artworks.
Wu Weishan, Director of the National Art Museum of China, commented on Li Yang’s paintings in the preface for this exhibition. He concluded that Li Yang’s works present a strong academic style factor while emphasizing the significance of “painting from life” and extracting figure themes from daily life at the same time. “Xu Beihong and Jiang Zhaohe’s foundation regarding academic painting traditions has formed the framework of Li Yang’s artworks, which enlightens the realistic tone and vivid expressional style in his work. In addition, he has also gained revelations from Li Keran’s notion of “painting from landscape (“对景写生”) and Lu Chen’s ink structure. By responding to reality and daily life in his art creation, Li Yang experienced the notion of ‘creating works by external learning from Naturalism and internal comprehension（“外师造化，中得心源”）’ in traditional Chinese Painting” (Wu Weishan, 2019).
In the process of creating Chinese paintings, the relationship between “sketching from nature” and art creation is always discussed and researched. Art creation ought to be practiced based on the result of study from Naturalism and then extracting themes should be applied to a specific piece of work. By doing so, an integrated “artwork” could be eventually produced. At the exhibition site, numbers of Li Yang’s large-scale ink paintings focus on the rushing figure of young women in the city, the simple lifestyle of the labors and the details of the clothing of the nomadic people. Through observing various lifestyles and cultures in detail and combining the request of “artification”, Li Yang outlines a vivid social picture and people’s livelihood using Chinese brush and ink as the medium.
The exhibition remains open till the 25th August, 2019.
Text by Emily Weimeng Zhou
Edit by Sue/CAFA ART INFO
Exhibition View by Hu Sichen
About the Exhibition:
Duration: August of 14th – August of 25th, 2019
Venue: No. 5 Exhibition Hall in the National Art Museum of China
Organizer: The National Art Museum of China