Installation view of “Teaching and Learning Improving Each Other Exhibition for Xu Renlong’s Teaching and Creation”

On the morning of March 23, 2014, “Teaching and Learning Improving Each Other: Exhibition for Xu Renlong’s Teaching and Creation” opened at the teaching exhibition hall of CAFA, the exhibition is jointly sponsored by CAFA and the High School Affiliated with CAFA, and collectively displays nearly 400 selected artworks created by Professor Xu Renlong over more than 40 years, which is divided into seven sections including landscape, flowers and birds, calligraphy, seal cutting, sketching and shaping, creation, and literature, to fully showcase Prof. Xu’s attention and thinking on traditional Chinese cultural spirit, honoured guests included Xu Bing, Vice President of CAFA, Gao Tianxiong, Director of the Department of Fundamental Education for Plastic Arts, and former President of the High School Affiliated with CAFA, Ma Gang, current President of the High School Affiliated with CAFA, Xie Yan, Party Secretary and Vice President of the High School Affiliated with CAFA, Zhang Junjuan, Vice President of the High School Affiliated with CAFA, Hu Xidan, Assistant to the President of the school, Huang Keyi, Deputy Secretary of the Communist Youth League of CAFA attended the opening ceremony of the exhibition.

Xu Renlong graduated magna cum laude from the Department of Chinese Painting in CAFA in 1978, having specialized in figure painting during his period at college, taught by Wu Biduan, Liu Boshu, Wei Qimei, Sun Zixi, Du Jian, Su Gaoli, Jin Shangyi, Huang Runhua, etc., and worked at the Department of Chinese Painting of the academy after his graduation, learning professional skills with famous Chinese painters such as Ye Qianyu, Li Kuchan, Li Keran, and training, appointed to the High School Affiliated with CAFA in 1979, once leading the administration of the school. Xu Renlong insisted on sketching creations, once he sketchedalong in the Loess Plateau, leaving his footprints all over Hequ, Shanxi, Mizhi and Jia County, Northern Shaanxi, to accumulate material at the earliest birthplace of Chinese civilization, experiencing the hardships of the farmers’ life, understanding the essence of life and art. At the same time, he is a fully accomplished artist who deeply studies Chinese cultural classics, aesthetics and Buddhism.

He created “The Great Wall” for the Reception Hall of Great Hall of the People in 2002, which is a classic piecefrom his creations, on the screen the shapesare solemn, structure is vivid and rigorous, and the green is lively and vivid, with precise shaping, the artist outlined the object, grasping the subtle changes of light and color, absorbing the realistic shaping consciousness of Western oil painting, painting it from the perspective of a bird’s-eye view as used in landscape painting, also using glue painting and adhering gold and silver foil, so that the screen is both painted and decorative.

Pan Gongkai, President of CAFA speaks highly of Xu Renlong’s art, and also writes the inscription for the exhibition, he thinks: Xu Renlong is one of the most important representative artists in the performance of traditional mainstream art and creates the vigorous magnificence of spirit of the Chinese people. His landscape painting absorbs the vigorous magnificent quality of Song Dynasty’s landscape painting, integrating the patterns of brush and ink in the landscape paintings of the Ming and Qing Dynasties with modern techniques, meanwhile actively accepting the influence of the concepts and techniques of Western realistic painting, using a large composition in the form of a wide screen to perform the natural scenic and human landscape of the huge mountains and river, thus showcasing a vigorous and high-spirited ethos.

While in college, Xu Renlong was a student along with Xu Bing, Xu Bing recalled the experience of painting and sketching together in CAFA. He still remembers that Xu Renlong was a homely and persistent older person, an artist heartily respecting for using traditional culture, touching the deepest essence of traditional Chinese culture in his creations. Xu Bing thought, we had been focusing on the academic study of Western art for years, but ignored the traditional Chinese culture, the tense relationship with today’s China was the relationship between human civilization and nature, “the harmony between man and nature” was the focus of traditional Chinese culture, it is traditional aesthetics which are seen in Xu Renlong’s creations. Ma Gang was a graduate after the High School affiliated with CAFA in 1979, and is also the current president of the school. As a student and a colleague of Xu Renlong, he said that Xu Renlong was a “stubborn” person, which was mainly reflected in the persistence of his artistic creations, and focused on traditional culture. Ma Gang also said, it was the 60th anniversary of the founding of the High School affiliated with CAFA, this exhibition was one part of a series of academic activities to celebrate it and in order to have a dialogue with the students, faculty and teaching, the exhibition was set in the school. As he had studied at the High School Affiliated with CAFA, Huang Keyi said Xu Renlong was the idol of his classmates and his at the time, Xu’s persistent pursuit of art, exquisite painting techniques, as well as vivid and humorous teaching style deeply influenced his learning and growth.

“Teaching and Learning Improving Each Other: Exhibition of Xu Renlong’s Teaching and Creation” is held at the moment of Xu Renlong’s retirement, for this exhibition, he said: “I have gone through a lot of detours on my art road, and now I would like to showcase my failures, so that the students of the academy can avoid the detour, this I do for the students before my retirement.”

The exhibition will continue until March 28. In addition, National Art Museum of China is about to launch the “Exhibition to Celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the Founding of the High School Affiliated with CAFA”, which will showcase more wonderful works of Xu Renlong.

Text and photo by Zhang Wenzhi, translated by Chen Peihua and edited by Sue/ CAFA ART INFO

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