“Academic Exhibition of Oil Painters Series – Zhong Han”, was planned by the Chinese Academy of Oil Painting for two years, it was officially inaugurated at the Academic Auditorium in the Chinese Academy of Oil Painting at 15:00 on November 2, 2013. As one of the “Academic Exhibition of Oil Painters” series, planned by the Chinese Academy of Oil Painting in 2011, it makes use of a “case study” approach for an academic combing through the history of art over 5 decades, as the Director of the Art Museum and initiator, Yang Feiyun said, “It’s both a research work and artistic heritage process”.
“Academic Exhibition of Oil Painters” series successively launched large-scale exhibitions of outstanding artists including Chen Danqing, Chao Ge, Xie Dongming, Duan Zhengqu, Jiao Xiaojian, Xin Dongwang, Su Gaoli, Duan Jianwei overthe past three years. The research series applies the guideline “Search for the Origin and the Path”, by combing through the development context of oil painting, reflecting the opening, developing, changing and concluding stages and genres in the development of oil painting, thus providing help for the growing young oil painters passing on the torch.
As one of the third generation in Chinese oil painting circles, Zhong Han’s main creative activities began after founding the People Republic of China, thus it’s inevitable that his artistic career was closely linked with the social changes of the second half of the 20th century, which is deserved so as to present the series of exhibitions. The respectable artist was born in Pingxiang of Jiangxi Province, in 1929, and graduated from the Postgraduate Course of Oil Painting in CAFA in 1963, and has been teaching in CAFA since then. As the chief tutor of the Postgraduate Course in CAFA, Zhong put his artistic experiences and knowledge that had been accumulated during the first half of his life, into the teaching, using his exploration and thought to lead the younger generation of painters to advance towards the in-depth direction of learning, and made a great contribution to the education of Chinese oil painting.
Seen from the works on display at the exhibition, it is a literature-style exhibition – more than 370 drawings and paintings as well as the related publications of an album, in addition, selecting nearly one hundred articles from the accumulation of texts over the years, a total of five volumes in two tomes entitled “Zhong Han Artistic Documentary Selection” are presented at the exhibition. The exhibition almost encompasses all the representative works in the last 50 years of his artistic career, like a “living specimen”, demonstrating what the third generation of oil painters had experienced during the artistic expression and practice of the changing age. In order to coordinate the exhibition, Zhong Han specifically wrote an article entitled “Note of the Issues and Studies”, in the text he combed through his history of art and the issues he encountered during his career, making a personal example as an effective means of convincing others. It should be particularly emphasized that Zhong Han repeatedly appropriated the works and programs before the opening of the exhibition, the longest preparation time and comprehensive academic information constitutes a feature of the exhibition, which is also the largest exhibition in the “Academic Exhibition of Oil Painters” series ever seen.
Through this exhibition, the spectators could go into the artistic journey of Zhong Han – from the early attention on local themes, to the exploration of themes and directions of new painting since the 1990s, and travelling to Europe many times, to study and copy the Western fine art, Zhong Han has built up a more meaningful dimension for oil painting, both in the theme and expressive system. Either the early masterpiece “On the Bank of Yan River” which opened up a new perspective for the major historical themed painting, or he has always been in pursuit of metaphysical performances, rather than purely in pursuit of form, his painting rises to the level of spiritual value with a sense of humanity.
In addition, there is a somewhat “paradox” uncovered in the artist’s works. For example his paintings of figures apply shape to perform the spirit, grasping the whole scene by the use of a few brushes, and such as his color, several large blocks of color can convey a spiritual meaning, but it is surprising that he creates repeatedly, “endlessly painting” – some finished large-scale creations would be modified and redrawn after some years, covered layer after layer, trying to find a more profound and appropriate expression. The passion for painting is named “the rhythm using every second” by his friends, which is undoubtedly the portrayal of the older generation of oil painters that are tirelessly in pursuit of and exploring art. Perhaps, this spirit of dedication is most worthy of the heritage of art creation, and the most valuable asset.
Journalist: Xiong Qiuxia, translated by Chen Peihua and edited by Sue/CAFA ART INFO